With the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play groups all drawn out, here’s a look into the exciting showdowns to come.
Firstly, a quick reminder of how the groups shape up:
The 2018 #DellMatchPlay bracket is set.
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Group 2 | Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Patton Kizzire, Luke List
Justin Thomas is the main man in the tournament’s second group. And he is in form worthy of that position. The world-number-two has three top 10s in his last three starts and his past two results have been a win and a second-place. With that he has taken the FedExCup top spot from Patton Kizzire. Now second in-line with two wins of his own this season, Kizzire will face up with Thomas in group two. Only one of the money-list’s leaders could make it out of the group to fight for the 550 FedExCup points on offer.
That duo will be joined by healthy competition Luke List – whose form reads tied seventh, tied 16th and second – and world-number-25 Francesco Molinari in one of the toughest groups out at Austin Country Club.
Group 4 | Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Haotong Li, Charl Schwartzel
For American golf fans this group perhaps offers the most exciting prospect. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed were playing partners is the US’s emphatic 2016 Ryder Cup victory at Hazeltine and more recently at the Presidents Cup in New Jersey. They will now face off in group four of the Dell Match-Play.
The two have never met against one another in a match-play situation before and, although impossible to tell exactly where Reed’s comment falls on the ‘banter’ scale, there could be some added fire to the tie after his outburst at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Group 6 | Rory McIlroy, Brian Harman, Jhonnatan Vegas, Peter Uihlein
There’s only one major singificance in group six. It’s head-name, Rory McIlroy, enters straight on the back of his first win in 18 months at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. McIlroy silenced all doubters with a stunning back-nine display of five birdies in his final six holes to romp to a three-shot victory; he beat Gary Woodland 4&2 to claim the 2015 title here, too.
None of McIlroy’s opponents enter in particularly inspiring form, so you would expect him to qualify with a degree of ease this week.
Group 7 | Sergio Garcia, Xander Schauffele, Dylan Frittelli, Shubhankar Sharma
The most diverse group at the Dell Match-Play, and the only group with every player from a different continent. Europe (Sergio Garcia), North America (Xander Schauffele), Africa (Dylan Frittelli) and Asia (Shubhankar Sharma) are all represented in group seven and it’s a group with all players in reputable form.
Masters-champion Garcia has finished top 10 in two consecutive starts, whilst PGA Tour Rookie-of-the-Year Schauffele has not finished outside the top 20 since January, and Frittelli has recently emerged in the world’s top 50 for the first time in his career.
But above all at the top of their game in this group is Sharma. The Indian-star won twice in the space of six weeks across the new year on the European Tour with titles at the Joburg Open and Maybank Championship; those were his two first career wins and have seen him escalate from outside the world’s top 450 to 69th. His last two starts have been top 10s, too.
Group 8 | Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Dufner, James Hahn
Other than Tiger Woods, only Jason Day is a multiple winner of this event with his 2014 and 2016 wins. He’s recently emphasised his love for match-play and is gunning for a third title this year. He’s got match-play history with one of his opponents, Louis Oosthuizen, following his 5&4 triumph over the South African in the 2016 final and their outing as teammates in the Presidents Cup.
After a troublesome 2017, Day began 2018 emphatically with a Farmers Insurance Open win and would love to continue that at an event he is frequently a victor at this week.