Planet Golf — 26 March 2019 by GW staff and news services
Dustin’s No. 1 target at WGC-Match Play

AUSTIN — Below are the results of the draw, as well as the matchups for each round and a quick analysis from our experts posted throughout the night. Each player below is listed by his seed, with his WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play career record in parentheses.

Group 1

1. DUSTIN JOHNSON (14-12) – Making his 11th appearance and his third straight as the top seed. Won the Championship in 2017, beating Jon Rahm 1 up.
24. HIDEKI MATSUYAMA (7-7-1) – Has failed to come out of group play since 2015 where he was beaten in the final 16 by eventual champion Rory McIlroy.
40. BRANDEN GRACE (6-8-1) – Has only advanced past Group Stage once in his last four starts in this event (2015 when he lost to Tommy Fleetwood in the Round of 16).
55. CHEZ REAVIE (1-1-1) – Debutant last year took down Jon Rahm but still couldn’t get out of his group.


Wednesday: Johnson vs. Reavie; Matsuyama vs. Grace
Thursday: Johnson vs. Grace; Matsuyama vs. Reavie
Friday: Johnson vs. Matsuyama; Grace vs. Reavie

ANALYSIS: Austin CC usually caters to big hitters, which means Johnson has the edge here. He’s already won the WGC-Mexico Championship and hoping to reprise his Mexico-Austin WGC double in 2017. Don’t count out Matsuyama, though, whose singles victory over Justin Thomas at the 2017 Presidents Cup featured some of the best golf of the week and marked Matsuyama as a match play threat. Grace and Reavie look to pull the upsets in this group. — Cameron Morfit

EXPERT PICK: Johnson will only break into a sweat once — against a tenacious Grace on Thursday — but will move on. — Ben Everill

Group 2

2. JUSTIN ROSE (10-11-1) – Returns after two-year absence for 12th start in event. Quarterfinals back in 2007 remains best result.
22. GARY WOODLAND (8-6-1) – Was the runner-up in 2015 to Rory McIlroy when the event was at Harding Park but has failed to get out of the group stage in two tries at Austin CC.
34. EDDIE PEPPERELL (0-0) – Making his first Match Play appearance.
53. EMILIANO GRILLO (1-4-1) – Won his first career Match Play match in 2016, and hasn’t won since then.


Wednesday: Rose vs. Grillo; Woodland vs. Pepperell
Thursday: Rose vs. Pepperell; Woodland vs. Grillo
Friday: Rose vs. Woodland; Pepperell vs. Grillo

ANALYSIS: If Rose was hoping for an easy return to Match Play after two years out, he is out of luck. The FedExCup champion could lose every match as easily as win them all against Woodland, Pepperell and Grillo. Woodland is a previous runner-up in the event and had extenuating circumstances blocking his path in recent years. Pepperell on debut is the wildcard and his match against countryman Rose should be a beauty. –– Ben Everill

EXPERT PICK: Pepperell is playing well, and Woodland has made the finals before losing to Rory McIlroy, but Rose isn’t the reigning FedExCup champ for nothing and emerges from this group. — Cameron Morfit

Group 3

3. BROOKS KOEPKA (8-4) – Returns after a year off. Quarterfinalist in 2016, final 16 in 2017 before wrist injury kept him out in 2018.
27. ALEX NOREN (11-4-0) – Third place last year and a quarterfinalist the year before. Has 10-2 record at Austin CC.
36. HAO TONG LI (0-3-0) – China’s great hope drew a tough group last year and was wiped out without making it to the 17th tee in any match.
60. TOM LEWIS (0-0) – Making first Match Play appearance.


Wednesday: Koepka vs. Lewis; Noren vs. Li
Thursday: Koepka vs. Li; Noren vs. Lewis
Friday: Koepka vs. Noren; Li vs. Lewis

ANALYSIS: It’s tempting to pick Noren for a sleeper since he was so tough in that two-day playoff against Jason Day at the Farmers last season, but don’t fall for it. He’s coming off two straight missed cuts. Koepka is the reigning Player of the Year, already has a win and a T2 this season, and is making up for lost time after missing his start at this tournament because of injury last year. Li and Lewis will try to play the spoilers, but Koepka and Austin CC look like a nice fit in the vein of DJ and Austin or Bubba and Austin. — Cameron Morfit

EXPERT PICK: While Alex Noren has a great record at Austin CC, Brooks Koepka will out muscle him in winner take all Friday match. – Ben Everill

Group 4

4. RORY MCILROY (24-11-2) – Recently crowned PLAYERS Champion was runner-up in 2012, won in 2015, was a semifinalist in 2016 … but failed to get out of Group Play the last two seasons.
32. MATTHEW FITZPATRICK (4-5-0) – Has played in all three Match Play events in Austin but failed to get past the Group Stage.
47. JUSTIN HARDING (0-0) – The South African is making his first Match Play appearance.
64. LUKE LIST (0-3-0) – Last man into the field needs mighty improvement on last year where he was whitewashed.


Wednesday: McIlroy vs. List; Fitzpatrick vs. Harding
Thursday: McIlroy vs. Harding; Fitzpatrick vs. List
Friday: McIlroy vs Fitzpatrick; Harding vs. List

ANALYSIS: PLAYERS Champion McIlroy faces a danger match to open his account. Big-hitting List was 0-3 a year ago and is the last player in the field but still represents a potential upset of McIlroy if the Northern Irishman is not switched on. Then there is Fitzpatrick, the recent runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard and is a former U.S. Amateur champion. McIlroy cannot afford to coast. — Ben Everill

EXPERT PICK: At this point it would be certifiably crazy to pick against McIlroy, who is still basking in the glow of his PLAYERS victory. – Cameron Morfit

Group 5

5. JUSTIN THOMAS ( 6-7-0) – After two uninspiring starts, found his groove last year to make it to the semifinals before losing to the eventual champion Bubba Watson.
31. KEEGAN BRADLEY (1-7-2) – Won his first-ever match in his event in 2012, beating Geoff Ogilvy, and hasn’t won since then.
33. MATT WALLACE (0-0) – Making first Match Play appearance.
50. LUCAS BJERREGAARD (0-0) – Making first Match Play appearance.


Wednesday: Thomas vs. Bjerregaard; Bradley vs. Wallace
Thursday: Thomas vs. Wallace; Bradley vs. Bjerregaard
Friday: Thomas vs. Bradley; Wallace vs. Bjerregaard

ANALYSIS: Bradley has revived his career and is making his first start here since 2015, which would suggest he’ll be playing with wind in his sails. He was also in the mix at THE PLAYERS, a good sign. (Pay no attention to his second-round 77 and MC at the Valspar, where the Copperhead Course pretty much devoured everyone.) Still, the easy favorite in this group will be Thomas, who advanced to the semifinals last year. Expect those two to meet in the finals, with Wallace and Bjerregaard playing spoiler. — Cameron Morfit

EXPERT PICK: Thomas should walk this one in against two WGC Match Play rookies. And he gets Bradley in his third round, where his scoring average has plummeted this season. — Ben Everill

Group 6

6. BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU (0-0) – Making his first Match Play start.
17. MARC LEISHMAN (5-8-2) – Made it to final 16 twice in five previous tries.
39. KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT (6-3-0) – Reached the Quarterfinals last year, losing to Bubba Watson 5 and 3.
59. RUSSELL KNOX (2-3-1) – Hoping for third time lucky after failing to get out of group stage on previous two attempts.


Wednesday: DeChambeau vs. Knox; Leishman vs. Aphibarnrat
Thursday: DeChambeau vs. Aphibarnrat; Leishman vs. Knox
Friday: DeChambeau vs. Leishman; Alphibarnrat vs. Knox

ANALYSIS: DeChambeau has four PGA TOUR wins since we were last in Austin, taking him from outside the top 64 players into a top seed in his group on debut. But his path out of group play is through some International stars. Australian Leishman has never lost in singles at the Presidents Cup. Thailand’s Aphibarnrat is a man on a mission to make his first Presidents Cup. Scotsman Knox already has a WGC title to his name. At the end of the day DeChambeau is also a former U.S. Amateur winner and NCAA champion; he knows how to go head-to-head. — Ben Everill

EXPERT PICK: This will be DeChambeau’s first look at Austin CC, but it’s hard to bet against the former U.S. Amateur champ. – Cameron Morfit

Group 7

7. FRANCESCO MOLINARI (4-11-0) – The reigning Open Champion has never come out of the Group Stage so will look to his 5-0 Ryder Cup heroics for inspiration.
21. WEBB SIMPSON (8-8-1) – Quarterfinalist in 2013 but hasn’t come out of group play since it began in 2015.
45. THORBJORN OLESEN (2-4-0) – Returns for first time since 2016 where he failed to get out of the group stage.
63. SATOSHI KODAIRA (0-3-0) – Battled hard on debut last season but lost all three matches.


Wednesday: Molinari vs. Kodaira; Simpson vs. Olesen
Thursday: Molinari vs. Olesen; Simpson vs. Kodaira
Friday: Molinari vs. Simpson; Olesen vs. Kodaira

ANALYSIS: Simpson distinguished himself with a top-20 in his title defense at THE PLAYERS, and can be a surprisingly tough out in match play. Molinari, meanwhile, just added to his recent heroics with a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. (He also kicked off a run of three straight TOUR events won by Europeans.) Olesen is better than people realize, but Kodaira has struggled to recapture the form he showed in winning the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head last year. – Cameron Morfit

EXPERT PICK: Going off the last 10 months or so you have to slate Molinari as the Italian stallion to come out of this quartet. – Ben Everill

Group 8

8. JON RAHM (6-3-1) – Reached the Championship match on debut in 2017, only to be bested by Dustin Johnson. Failed to win a group match last year.
23. MATT KUCHAR (24-9-3) – The 2013 champion also made the final four in 2011 and the quarterfinals in 2012.
43. J.B. HOLMES (6-7-2) – Advanced past Group Stage once – in 2015, when he lost to Jim Furyk in the Round of 16.
54. SI WOO KIM (3-2-2) – Advanced to the Round of 16 last year, losing to Justin Thomas 6 and 5.


Wednesday: Rahm vs. Kim; Kuchar vs. Holmes
Thursday: Rahm vs. Holmes; Kuchar vs. Kim
Friday: Rahm vs. Kuchar; Holmes vs. Kim

ANALYSIS: Rahm rammed his way all the way to the final against Dustin Johnson two years ago before a more humbling effort last year. Since then the Spaniard has knocked off Tiger Woods in Ryder Cup singles, and was recently the 54-hole leader at THE PLAYERS. He has a real taste for this. But all four could easily come through here. The key for Rahm is temperament. Former PLAYERS champion Kim can get streaky hot, Holmes can be very deliberate and is coming off a recent win in Los Angeles while Kuchar has two wins this season, is a veteran match player, and a former champion of this event. — Ben Everill

EXPERT PICK: Gotta go with Rahm, who had THE PLAYERS in his hands through three rounds and was a finalist here two years ago. – Cameron Morfit

Group 9

9. XANDER SCHAUFFELE (2-1-0) – Taken out by loss to Sergio Garcia on debut last year after winning first two starts. Has multiple TOUR wins since.
29. RAFA CABRERA BELLO (9-6-1) – Reached the Semifinals in 2016 but hasn’t advanced past the Group Stage in the last two years.
35. TYRRELL HATTON (4-3-0) – Won a Group stage tiebreaker last year against Brendan Steele before losing to Cameron Smith in the Round of 16.
62. LEE WESTWOOD (17-19) – Match Play veteran in his 18th start at the event. Was a semifinalist in 2012.


Wednesday: Schauffele vs. Westwood; Cabrera Bello vs. Hatton
Thursday: Schauffele vs. Hatton; Cabrera Bello vs. Westwood
Friday: Schauffele vs. Cabrera Bello; Hatton vs. Westwood

ANALYSIS: Although he blitzed the field at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January, Schauffele hasn’t quite recaptured that magic of late. Westwood has more experience than anyone, which is both good and bad, and Hatton is a sort of English version of Rahm — very dangerous if/when he gets out of his own way. The hottest player in this group is probably Cabrera Bello, who has yet to win a TOUR event but looked pretty good, again, in fashioning a T3 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. – Cameron Morfit

EXPERT PICK: Expect a playoff out of this group with Schauffele digging deep to find his early season form to advance. – Ben Everill

Group 10

10. PAUL CASEY (25-14-1) – Sunday’s winner of the Valspar Championship lost in the finals in 2009 (to Geoff Ogilvy) and 2010 (to Ian Poulter). Advanced to Sweet 16 in 2017.
25. CAMERON SMITH (3-1-1) – Quarterfinalist on debut last year. Match Play guru as a junior in Australia.
42. CHARLES HOWELL III (10-11-0) – Has reached the Round of 16 in each of the past two years, losing to Jon Rahm in 2017 and Kiradech Aphibarnat in 2018.
58. ABRAHAM ANCER (0-0) – Making first Match Play appearance.


Wednesday: Casey vs. Ancer; Smith vs. Howell
Thursday: Casey vs. Howell; Smith vs. Ancer
Friday: Casey vs. Smith; Howell vs. Ancer

ANALYSIS: Casey is fresh off a win at the Valspar Championship and has always been a pretty decent stick at match play. But in this case, his grinding repeat at Copperhead, could have him snake bitten. A quick turnaround comes for the Englishman against Ancer, who has designs on the International Presidents Cup team. Recently won in Australia and went close in the World Cup — look out for an upset. From there the group sets up nicely for Smith, who also has his eyes on Ernie Els International team. A gun in match play as a kid, Smith made the quarterfinals on debut in Austin last year. Howell III is as consistent as they come, but needs to show the killer instinct for the format. — Ben Everill

EXPERT PICK: Unless he’s gassed from Valspar, Casey, with one of the best Match Play records in the field, is a solid bet. —Cameron Morfit

Group 11

11. TOMMY FLEETWOOD (6-5-0) – In three previous starts, he advanced past the Group Stage just once, in 2015 when he lost to fellow Englishman Danny Willett in the Quarterfinals.
19. LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN (19-10-0) – Runner up at Austin CC to Jason Day in 2016. Quarterfinalist two other occasions.
41. KYLE STANLEY (4-3-0) – In just his second Match Play appearance, and first in six years, Stanley made it to the quarterfinals last year.
49. BYEONG-HUN AN (1-4-2) – Won Group Stage in 2016 but conceded Sweet 16 match to Rafa Cabrera-Bello after suffering a neck injury.


Wednesday: Fleetwood vs. An; Oosthuizen vs. Stanley
Thursday: Fleetwood vs. Stanley; Oosthuizen vs. An
Friday: Fleetwood vs. Oosthuizen; Stanley vs. An

ANALYSIS: Stanley has been missing cuts, and while An fired a first-round 66 at THE PLAYERS, he didn’t do much with it. With top-5 finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS, and his 4-1-0 performance at the Ryder Cup, the red-hot Fleetwood will get the nod to come out of this group, but watch out for Oosthuizen, who is coming off a 66-69 weekend and T2 finish at the Valspar. He’s hot, too. – Cameron Morfit

EXPERT PICK: The Friday match between Fleetwood and Oosthuizen should be a winner-take-all. Slight lean towards the Englishman. – Ben Everill

Group 12

12. JASON DAY (22-11-0) – Won the championship in in 2014 (in Arizona) and 2016 when Austin first hosted the Match Play.
20. PHIL MICKELSON (24-14-0) – In his 15th appearance at the event but best results are twice being a quarterfinalist.
37. HENRIK STENSON (14-9) – Former champion (2007) and third place finisher (2008) returns for the first time since 2015. First crack at Austin CC.
52. JIM FURYK (19-18-1) – Making his 18th Match Play start; best result was in 2015 when e lost to Rory McIlroy in the Semifinals.


Wednesday: Day vs. Furyk; Mickelson vs. Stenson
Thursday: Day vs. Stenson; Mickelson vs. Furyk
Friday: Day vs. Mickelson; Stenson vs. Furyk

ANALYSIS: Two-time champion Day against three veterans, all of whom join the Australian as major winner — this is a blockbuster group. Despite the amazing pedigree of Mickelson, Stenson and Furyk the draw would be a welcome one for Day, who wants to rebound after two lean years in the event. Furyk comes in hot off his PLAYERS runner-up result but can he stay up against the young bomber as he nears 50? Stenson’s form of late has been far from stellar and Mickelson’s erratic tee balls could really hurt him in the early holes at Austin CC. The tactical battles and mind games among these four will be worth the admission alone. — Ben Everill

EXPERT PICK: Yep, Austin is good for big hitters, but Kevin Kisner made the final last year and the 48-year-old Furyk will surprise by coming out of this group of bombers. — Cameron Morfit

Group 13

13. TIGER WOODS (33-10) – Match Play champion in 2003, 2004 and 2008. Last start in this event was 2013, so he’s never played at Austin CC or in this Group Play format.
18. PATRICK CANTLAY (2-1-0) – Lost to Cameron Smith in his opener last year before winning his next two matches.
44. BRANDT SNEDEKER (7-8-1) – Returns after a year off from the event. Has only come out of Group stage once in last three tries.
61. AARON WISE (0-0) – Making first Match Play appearance.


Wednesday: Woods vs. Wise; Cantlay vs. Snedeker
Thursday: Woods vs. Snedeker; Cantlay vs. Wise
Friday: Woods vs. Cantlay; Snedeker vs. Wise

ANALYSIS: It’s hard to know what to make of Woods, a WGC and Match Play dynamo whose putting changes hadn’t quite taken full effect at THE PLAYERS (T30). Plus, he’s never played this tournament at Austin CC. Snedeker had a T5, including a third-round 65, at THE PLAYERS, and recent form plus his always-hot putter suggests he will be dangerous. Cantlay hasn’t been in form, while Wise, a Match Play superstar in leading Oregon to the NCAA title two years ago, could be a sleeping giant. — Cameron Morfit

EXPERT PICK: The danger match for Woods comes out of the gate against Wise. Win that and momentum takes him to Saturday. — Ben Everill

Group 14

14. TONY FINAU (2-1-0) – Won his first two matches last year before losing to Group winner Alex Noren.
30. IAN POULTER (27-15-0) – The match play maestro is in his 14th appearance. Won the tournament in 2010, made the final four two other times and was a quarterfinalist last year.
48. KEVIN KISNER (8-4-1) – Reached the Championship last year, losing to Bubba Watson 7 and 6.
56. KEITH MITCHELL (0-0) – Making his first Match Play appearance.


Wednesday: Finau vs. Mitchell; Poulter vs. Kisner
Thursday: Finau vs. Kisner; Poulter vs. Mitchell
Friday: Finau vs. Poulter; Kisner vs. Mitchell

ANALYSIS: Perhaps one of the toughest groups to pick across the entire tournament. Finau was given no favors by picking up known Match Play specialist Poulter and last year’s finalist, Kisner. And if you think Mitchell is a pushover, you clearly haven’t been watching the Florida swing where he won The Honda Classic. We could point to Kisner’s average form as a way to dismiss him — except he missed three of four cuts leading into last year’s final appearance. Paper, Scissors, Rock anyone? — Ben Everill

EXPERT PICK: Ian Poulter has been playing well for a while now, and as one of eight former champions in the field, he’s too dangerous to overlook. — Cameron Morfit

Group 15

15. BUBBA WATSON (20-8-3) – Defending champion was also semi-finalist in 2011. Beat Kevin Kisner 7 and 6 in final last year.
28. JORDAN SPIETH (11-5-1) – Quarterfinalist on debut in 2014 but has only come out of group stage once in last four years.
38. BILLY HORSCHEL (4-4) – Hasn’t advance past Group Stage in his two appearances since the new format was introduced.
57. KEVIN NA (5-8-2) – Come out of Group Play just once (2017) in last four years – via a tiebreaker – only to lose at next hurdle.


Wednesday: Watson vs. Na; Spieth vs. Horschel
Thursday: Watson vs. Horschel; Spieth vs. Na
Friday: Watson vs. Spieth; Horschel vs. Na

ANALYSIS: Spieth said after a MC at THE PLAYERS that his putting is finally rounding into form. But what about the rest of his game? And will a return to Austin, where he starred for Texas, be the kick-start he’s been looking for? Horschel has been close, with a T26 at THE PLAYERS and T16 at The Honda Classic. Na has made more headlines lately for his hilarious quick-pick-up on the greens than his play. Then there’s defending champ Watson, who is coming off a T4 at the Valspar. — Cameron Morfit

EXPERT PICK: You want to give Spieth some love in Texas, but you just can’t given his game right now. Bubba to advance. — Ben Everill

Group 16

16. PATRICK REED (9-6-1) – Captain America has won his group twice in last four years, only to lose at next hurdle.
26. SERGIO GARCIA (22-18-1) – Making his 17th Match Play start, his best run was in 2010 when he reached the Semifinals.
46. SHANE LOWRY (3-7-2) – After being the upset winner over top seed Rory McIlroy back in 2013 has struggled. Failed to get out of Group Play in three previous tries.
51. ANDREW PUTNAM (0-0) – Making first Match Play appearance.


Wednesday: Reed vs. Putnam; Garcia vs. Lowry
Thursday: Reed vs. Lowry; Garcia vs. Putnam
Friday: Reed vs. Garcia; Lowry vs. Putnam

ANALYSIS: Reed has been shaky of late, even bringing in a swing coach in Tampa to get another set of eyes. Garcia could advance on experience and guile alone — and he’s now an adopted Texan. Both players love for the challenge of head-to-head play, giving us a potential dream winner-take-all Friday. But Lowry is a sleeper – he once tore down a top-seeded McIlory in this event — and while Putnam has cooled lately, missing three of his last four cuts, he comes in with a nothing-to-lose attitude. — Ben Everill

EXPERT PICK: Reed isn’t the only match play lover here; Lowry, who tends to fly under the radar, comes out of this group. — Cameron Morfit

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