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The only match-play tournament on the PGA Tour schedule
But it is also the last time the championship will be played
Local man and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler defends the trophy
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This week will be the final renewal of the Dell Technologies Match Play as the PGA Tour calls a halt to the World Golf Championship and focuses instead on its own “designated” events.
It will be a sad week because the tournament is the only example of head-to-head combat that the world’s elite golfers undertake.
But many of those players are also suspicious of the format because they can play brilliantly and still get dumped out.
It makes for an intriguing and sometimes infuriating test for the competitors - and also for punters.
Consider the case of Kevin Kisner.
Most weeks this fine golfer tends to be overpowered by the world’s top 20 performers but he loves match-play golf.
In fact, he was not only the winner at Austin in 2019, but he’s also twice finished second.
We noted just two weeks ago at THE PLAYERS Championship that Pete Dye-designed golf courses have prompted the phrase “Dye-abolical” to explain just how difficult his tests can be.
Moreover, we added that some golfers like them, and others are bewildered by the test.
It’s a factor to take into consideration again this week because the layout at Austin Country Club is a classic Dye examination with plenty of risk and reward.
Indeed, there have been six winners of this event on the course, and all six already owned top two finishes on Dye courses with four of them winners.
There’s a very real sense of deja vu surrounding Texas-based Scottie Scheffler at the moment.
This time last year he won four times in six starts to become World No. 1 and he’s won twice in his last four starts ahead of his return there this week.
Moreover, his course form is sensational because he was second in 2021 ahead of winning 12 months ago.
Jon Rahm finished runner-up on his course and tournament debut in 2017 but has failed to reach the semi-finals since then.
He’s a two-time winner this year but he lost form at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (following an opening 65 with two laps of 76) and had to pull out of THE PLAYERS Championship with illness.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy also ended his PLAYERS week early but in his case because of a missed cut.
He’s a former winner and runner-up in this championship but since making the last four at Austin in 2016 he has failed to make the quarter-final stage every time he has teed it up.
Can Scottie Scheffler win back-to-back here?
He can and his case is helped by a kind draw that sees him in the same quarter as top seeds who have struggled at Austin (Sungjae Im, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland) and potential threats who are either tired or out of form (Tom Kim, Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren).
Scheffler has already successfully defended the Phoenix Open this year and he approaches the game in such a simple manner he seems unlikely to be fazed by his own superb course record.
Take him each way at +800 with bet365 which pays out if he makes the last four.
This could be the week when England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who has reached the knockout stages of this event in three of the last four editions, kicks on into the final stages.
He confirmed his Pete Dye credentials when finishing second at TPC Sawgrass two weeks ago, a result that was his fifth top 10 finish in his last seven starts.
He’s also landed five top 10s in Texas down the years and he will be hungry to show his best match play form in a Ryder Cup year.
Back him each way at +2500 with Unibet which pays out for a semi-final appearance.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry has tasted glory in the World Golf Championship but it came in the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone when playing stroke play.
When match play is the format he’s had big problems.
In fact, his career record in head-to-head golf reads 29 matches and just eight wins.
If that’s bad, his log book at Austin Country Club is even worse: 16 matches, three halves, three wins, and 10 defeats.
In Wednesday’s first set of matches, he is up against the ultra-consistent rookie Taylor Montgomery who can add to Lowry’s championship misery.
Back the American at +100 with the FanDuel Sportsbook.
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Tournament: The World Golf Championship Dell Technologies Match Play
Location: Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas
Date: WEDNESDAY MAR. 22 - SUNDAY MAR. 26
How to watch: WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY 2 p.m.-8 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). SATURDAY 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (Golf Channel), 12 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). SUNDAY 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (NBC). And all four days on Sky Sports.
Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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