Winner’s Share – $1,530,000
Course – TPC Harding Park (7,169 par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Sergio Garcia (9), Jordan Spieth (5), Jason Day (WIN), Hunter Mahan (9)
NEW FORMAT FOR 2015
The top 64 players are ready to do battle in this year’s WGC Match Play but with a new structure. Given the early exit of the likes of Tiger and Rory in recent years, sponsors and TV companies have naturally kicked up a fuss. So how’s it working?
– 64 players
– 16 groups of 4 players (with 1 top 16 player in OWGR in each)
– 1 player from each pool will go into each group
– POOL 1 (Players seeded 17-32) POOL 2 (Players seeded 33-48) POOL 3 – (Players seeded 49-64)
– Round robin matches Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
– The 16 winners from the groups go into single-elimination match play, like the old format
– Semi-finals and final played out on Sunday
TPC Harding Park plays host to this year’s event which has hosted the WGC Cadillac stroke play back in 2005 and the President’s Cup in 2009. Tiger won in ’05 and was 5 for 5 in the President’s too…
With penal rough and a very protected tree-lined front nine, this parkland track has all sorts of obstacles for the players to contend with.
The second nine runs alongside a lake, which looks great on the eye and in many respects opens up for some potential freedom, but what it really means is a lot more wind.
The back nine could be such an intriguing proposition, when the heat of gargantuan battle is well and truly alive and the wind howls to make it even more fascinating.
After hosting the WGC back in 05′, both Tiger and Phil said the track seemed to play long, belying it’s short yardage. The ball doesn’t travel as far at sea level and with potential strong winds, low, powerful ball flight could really be a key.
But it’s still clear how important it will be to keep the ball in play. Having the chance to calculate when to attack pins and when to control your irons is everything in matchplay. It’s not you against the field, it’s you against one other, so it really is vital that your not hacking out the thick stuff all the time.
As for betting, well it is completely wide open. The most important thing to do, is to look at the draw and work out in your mind as rationally as possible who you think could go through the groups and what that means in terms of who’ll be playing who.
By far and away the most intriguing ‘section’ of the draw odds wise is the lower half – groups 4, 5, 12 and 13.
Furyk, Kaymer, Jiadee and Coetzee make up the ‘5th’ group and you cannot see the winner honestly coming out of there with Jimbo’s inconsistent short game, but Kaymer should theoretically progress if you were looking at it logically. The German would then go on to play the winner of the ’12th’ group – one of JB Holmes, Koepka, Henley and Warren. A tough one to call between the top 3 on paper, but Koepka and Holmes have the most appeal. For us, Koepka might just edge it.
So, and we mean this very hypothetically, one of Kaymer or Koepka could be battling it out in the quarters – lets say Kaymer knicks it. And the opponent there?
The ‘4th’ group containts Bubba, Oosthuizen, Bradley and Jimenez. Honestly cannot see Bubba doing well here, Jimenez may not be able to compete with the other 3 which leaves Louis and Bradley. Both are touch and go form wise and with the putter, but Keegan may just sneak it. He would then play one of Fowler, McDowell, Lowry and English. Only Fowler knows if he will turn up or not, whilst Gmac is a solid Matchplay bet. Say we then have Bradley vs Gmac, Gmac grinds it out and gets to the quarters.
That then leaves you – again must stress how hyperthetical all this is, we are just trying to suggest how important it is to look at this part of the draw!! – with Kaymer Vs Gmac for a place in the semis.
Whereas the other sections – if sponsors, crowds and tournament organisers get their way, whilst the form book runs true ten you could be seeing –
1 McIlroy Vs Matsuyama in the Round of 16
Scott Vs DJ in the Round of 16
2 Spieth Vs Reed in the Round of 16
Garcia Vs Day in the Round of 16
3 Rose Vs Walker/Poulter in the Round of 16
Kuchar Vs Stenson in the Round of 16
(The numbers indicate that specific section. The winner of those sections will then go onto play each other in the next round, i.e McIlroy Vs Scott)
Now, some of them are ridiculous to call.
We will be making a few long-term bets for the overall, but it will take a lot more time for us to really be sure and most of our money will be going on accumulators and in-play.
But what we do know is that Ian Poultar and Paul Casey at 40/1 do intrigue and may be worth a cheeky punt for now. Plus Gmac at 60s….
Paul Casey (40/1 various)
If you were thinking of an Englishman with superhuman Match Play powers, you would most likely be drawn to Ian Poulter. And too right as well.
But Paul Casey is another fighter from the same isles with a very impressive record in this format.
His record reads – 26-19-2. Now that is ridiculous!
He has been in the wilderness for so long, but we’re all seeing a steady climb back to the summit of the game and he could definitely have a say in what happens this week.
Challenging far in this competition will really cement his return, especially after a truly valiant effort at The Masters. His draw is intriguing as he will have to overcome former number one Adam Scott and iron guru Chris Kirk, as well as Francesco Molinari.
We can see him out-battling Kirk and Molinari, but obviously a lot of it will depend on how he performs against the Aussie. We aren’t sure which putter Scott will be bringing, but we feel the confusion on the greens could mean a door opening for Casey to march through to the next round.
He would then go onto play someone from group 8 consisting of DJ, Dubuisson, Schwartzel and Matt Jones. Obviously Dubuisson has shown a liking for this format, but not sure he’s in the right form whilst DJ doesn’t look like he’d fit this track. If you get through that, then anything is possible…
Ian Poulter (40/1 various)
Yes, we’ve gone there. Why not?!
Poults is in some pretty impressive form at the moment and is one of a few to have actually played this track several years ago. He will know a bit more about it and because he finished T20, he’ll be able to draw on his experiences to help push him forward.
His Match Play record is obviously well-known and you can’t help but think whoever he plays will automatically feel slight fear on the 1st tee. He’ll use that to his advantage and battle through.
His draw is interesting – Walker, Simpson and Woodland. The latter is out of form and doesn’t suit, but the former two are going to be tough opposition. If he can get through it could mean a showdown with Justin Rose, but that’s unlikely considering his recent exploits.
Worth a punt surely?!
Hideki Matsuyama (33/1 various)
He played ridiculously well at the weekend at Augusta as well, once again proving his pedigree at big tournaments. He is regularly showing why he’s a big player for big events.
And his game really suits this format – he will hit the ball long and straight and often attack pins with consistent ease, making him a tough opponent.
His draw is intriguing too – Can see him easily getting out his group of Kevin Na, Joost Luiten and Alexander Levy where he could then play McIlroy. But with the world number one booked in to see Mayweather Vs Pacqiauo on his birthday weekend, do you really think the WGC will be top of his priorities? Will he want to fly back on Saturday night after the fight?
Well, would you?!
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1.50 e/w on Ian Poulter at 33/1
£1.50 e/w on Paul Casey at 33/1
£1.00 e/w on Hideki Matsuyama at 30/1
Last 2 bets with Stan James for group win accumulators
£1.00 WIN – Spieth, Day, Matsuyama, Reed, Stenson at 50/1
£1.00 WIN – Spieth, Day, Reed, Stenson, Poulter, Casey at 204/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 4 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 15 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-48.70 European Tour: £-63.75
PGA Tour: £-68.44 PGA Tour: £58.75
Total: £-117.14 Total: £5.00
Golf Monthly leads by: £112.14