PGA Tour Picks: World Golf Championships-Match Play Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Europeans have taken over the PGA Tour for the past three weeks as for the third straight tournament a Euro was the winner. On Sunday, it was Englishman Paul Casey capturing the Valspar Championship in the Tampa Bay area, becoming the first player to ever repeat at the event (Casey had never repeated at any tournament as a pro). He won by a shot over two players in 2018 at 10-under 274 and won by a shot over two different players on Sunday at 8-under 276.
Very different conditions from last Sunday to this. A year ago, Casey shot a final-round 65. This time, it was a 1-over 72. Casey saved par from a fairway bunker on the final hole. Casey held the 54-hole lead at a PGA Tour event for the sixth time in his career but finished the job for only the second. Three players had a great chance to win late Sunday: Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Kokrak, with the latter two finishing runner-up. Johnson ballooned to a final-round 74, his first round outside the 60s since the opening round of the Genesis Open in February. That streak had been 14 straight rounds, easily the longest active on Tour.
Didn't get much right last week other than a few head-to-head props. Our winning pick was Patrick Reed, who had a great track record at the Copperhead Course but shot ugly rounds of 77-75 to miss the cut.
This week, it's the only match-play tournament on the Tour schedule and fittingly held during March Madness: The World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play from Austin Country Club in Texas. In theory, the Top 64 players in the world would fill this bracket (no play-in games like the NCAA Tournament). All but two of the world's 64 are playing, with Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott skipping for the second year in a row. The top four players, Johnson, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy, all are No. 1 seeds in their respective "regions." There are 16 groups with the Top 16 in the world rankings as the "A" player in each group. The remaining three players in each group were determined by a blind draw from three separate pools based on each player's world ranking.
Wednesday-Friday features round-robin pool play, with the winner of each pool advancing. Then it's single elimination, with the "Sweet 16" and quarterfinals on Saturday and the semifinals and final on Sunday.
Austin Country Club, a par 71 (not that par matters in match play) measuring 7,108 yards, has hosted since 2016 (so we're only going to use course history since then). The biggest winning margin in any match was 9 & 8 by Tiger Woods over Stephen Ames in 2006. Woods has won this a record three times. It should be his final event before the Masters. The longest match was 26 holes. There are no extra holes in round-robin play as matches can be halved. There could be a sudden-death playoff, though, if players tie atop the group.
Golf Odds: WGC-Match Play Favorites
Johnson and Rory McIlroy each opened at +900 at Bovada to win. DJ won in 2017 by beating Jon Rahm 1 up in the final, while McIlroy won the 2015 final at a different course 4 & 2 over Gary Woodland. McIlroy has had a fabulous year on Tour and comes off a victory at the Players Championship. Neither Johnson nor McIlroy made it out of round-robin play in 2018 - DJ went 0-3 in that round.
Justin Thomas is +1400 with Rahm at +1600. Jason Day, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood are all +2000 with Tiger at +2200 and defending champion Bubba Watson +2800. It's Tiger's first visit since 2013. Day is a two-time champion, in 2016 and 2014 (different course). Rose hasn't played since 2016 when he didn't get out of the first round. Rahm has gotten out of round-robin play both visits with that runner-up two years ago.
Golf Odds: WGC-Match Play Picks
Way too many props to even address. One could argue the toughest group is No. 11, with Fleetwood, excellent match-play competitor Oosthuizen (runner-up in 2016), Kyle Stanley and Ben An. All four guys are great ball-strikers. We'll take Louis at +550 as top "rest of the world" finisher. Group 14 with Tony Finau, match-play stud Ian Poulter, Kevin Kisner and Keith Mitchell is also strong.
Easily the biggest-name group is No. 12 with Day, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Jim Furyk. Stenson also has won this tournament. Mickelson is struggling since his win at Pebble Beach. Furyk nearly won the Players a couple of weeks ago. Day is the clear favorite there.
We like Thomas at +750 as top American - he's +400 to reach the semis, which he did last year. Thomas is in the only group (No. 5) with two debutants (Matt Wallace and Lucas Bjerregaard - along with Keegan Bradley). Thomas should roll through that group. Survive and advance!
Our winner is Rahm. Including last year's Ryder Cup, Rahm is 7-3-1 in match play singles in his pro career. He does have a very good match-play guy in Matt Kuchar in his Group 8 along with J.B. Holmes and Si Woo Kim. Kuchar won the tournament in 2013 and was third in 2011.
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