The PGA Tour leaves Florida following a boring Honda Classic that saw a low Thursday round from Matt Jones turn into a five-stroke victory on Sunday once Aaron Wise fell apart of the weekend. The Tour heads to Texas and Austin Country Club for golf’s version of March Madness in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. The bracket features 64 of the world’s top golfers divided into 16 four-player “pods’ to start the event.
March Madness bracket busted?
The @DellMatchPlay Bracket Challenge is your chance at redemption.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 23, 2021
The 16 groupings will play round-robin action on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday where a win earns one point and ties earn half a point. The winners of the “pods” advance to the round of 16, where the event transitions into a single-elimination Match Play format that has proven to be increasingly popular with fans in recent years. The round of 16 and quarterfinals will take place on Saturday, while Sunday will feature the semifinals and the championship matchup.
In the past, this event has seen some wind render the playing conditions difficult, but this week’s weather appears more golfer-friendly and is not supposed to produce any winds of over 15 miles per hour. Rain is expected late on Saturday afternoon and could lead to a minor delay in the action, but ultimately should not lead to a huge delay nor drastically affect playing conditions.
The field is loaded this week with all of the top 64 golfers in the world in Austin except for a handful of notables that includes Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, and Gary Woodland for various reasons. But this is about who is here, and not who isn’t.
Only five golfers are under 20-1 this week on the odds board, starting with Bryson DeChambeau at +1200 and followed by Justin Thomas (+1200), Dustin Johnson (+1400), Jon Rahm (+1400) and Collin Morikawa (+1800). The best bet of the top five golfers on the board is Rahm at 14-1. In match play, the first thing to look for is an easier group stage.
Rahm is playing in Group Three that features Shane Lowry, who has never advanced to the round of 16 in three tries, plus two golfers in Ryan Palmer and Sebastian Munoz, who will be making their Austin match-play debuts. Furthermore, Group Three is paired with Group 14, which is comprised of Daniel Berger, Harris English, Brendon Todd, and Erik Van Rooyen. Berger is the favorite of Group 14, but he was forced to withdraw from the Honda Classic last week due to a rib injury and may not be 100-percent healthy for this week’s event.
The last two winners of this event were Kevin Kisner at 60-1 and Bubba Watson at 50-1, so do not waste too much time analyzing the top of the odds board for this event.
Best Value Plays
The middle tier features big names such as Patrick Reed (+2500), Jordan Spieth (+2500), Xander Schauffele (+2500), and Patrick Cantlay (+2800). But the best place to look on the odds board with this group is down near 40-1.
The winner of that opening round matchup has a great chance to win the group, with the other two participants of Group 15 being Corey Conners and Matthew Wolff.
While Connors has played well of late, Wolff has been in awful form as recently and is worth looking to fade in round-by-round matchups regardless of who he is facing.
Sergio Garcia (+4000) is the next bet to look at in this range, as the flashy Spaniard has been in great form as of late. Garica was outstanding at The PLAYERS Championship, finding himself in contention due to dialed-in iron play. Garcia has experience in match play and finds himself in Group 8, paried with Tyrell Hatton, Lee Westwood and Matt Wallace.
Garcia has an experience advantage over two of the three Englishmen in his opening group, and Westwood does not have nearly the same history of success in these events that Sergio has, despite the fact that Westwood also had been flashing great form of late prior to missing the cut at last week’s Honda Classic.
The odds board features great golfers even down amongst the longshots, and the first name to look at in this crowd is Max Homa at 80-1. Homa missed the cut at The PLAYERS, making it the first time in eight events he had doneso. The other seven events saw Homa collect six top-25 finishes, two top-10 finishes, and a win. He is in Group Four with Collin Morikawa, Billy Horschel, and J.T. Poston.
Perez is in Group 16 with Sungjae Im, Russell Henley and Marc Leishman. Henley is the only one in decent form of late after a high finish at the Honda Classic, but that was the result mostly of a great putting performance. Without DJ or DeChambeau in Perez’s path, he is easily worth a bet at these odds.
Group and Round 1 Plays
The best Round One play for Wednesday is Victor Perez over Marc Leishman in Group 16. Leishman does not have a top-30 finish in the past couple of months, while Perez finished tied for ninth at The PLAYERS.
The next wager to consider for Round One is Corey Conners over Matthew Wolff. Conners has shown great ball-striking form over the past month while Wolff has been battling injuries and posting high scores left and right.
Day has a great history in match-play events, boasting a 24-14 record. Day won this event in 2016 and played well enough at The PLAYERS to suggest his game is trending upward.
Schauffele and Scheffler would normally be a tough draw, but neither has shown great recent form with both missing multiple cuts over the past two months.