College basketball isn’t the only tournament in town this weekend. The world’s best golfers head to Austin, Texas for the Dell WGC Match Play event. WagerTalk golf handicapper Andy Lang shares his thoughts on this week’s field, format and potential betting opportunities.
WGC Match Play Field
Some people love match play events, while some people hate them. I like them a lot. I love that we can get some great betting opportunities every day with different head-to-head matchups. I love that two guys will play in the same weather for a round, and I love the advantage we have of watching the matchups and seeing who has good body language and who doesn’t moving into his next match.
Of course, match play is about playing your opponent, but it requires everything you need in a normal round of golf in terms of hitting fairways, approach shots and crucial putts, so it’s important for me to start with who’s in good current form. From there, I’ll focus in on who’s struggling putting as a couple of missed putts can cost you the entire match. Here are the top-10 players the last 30 days in Total Strokes Gained:
Here are the bottom-10 putters the last 30 days in this field:
Si Woo Kim
This course has three long par 5’s and three par 4’s that are less than 400 yards, so there’s a lot of risk/reward on those holes for guys that try and over power them. Here are the top-five scorers on Par 5’s:
There are always a lot of upsets in match play day-to-day, but last year, 22 of the top seeds came out of the groups, and I think we see more of that this week. This year, we see the cream rising to the top more than ever in tournaments so predicting the upsets might be difficult. Here are a couple names that are ripe to get beat:
WGC Match Play Players to Avoid
Rory McIlroy – He’s the fourth-highest betting favorite this week, and there’s no way I’ll be betting on him. His last four times playing here have resulted in finishes outside the top 25, and the other a ninth-place finish, which is nowhere near returning value. He’s finished outside the top 28 in three out of his last four tournaments in 2023, and he’s the sixth-worst putter in the field this week.
Jordan Spieth – This guy is so inconsistent, it’s crazy. Two weeks ago he finished 19th at The Players, but he even admitted that he would’ve missed the cut if his drive didn’t hit a patron and bounce into the fairway. If that happens, his last six finishes would have been 3rd, MC, 4th, MC, 6th, 63. Even last week he shot 67 in the first round, then 70, 69, 70 the other three. At The Players: 69, 75, 66, 72. At The Phoenix Open he shot 71 in round 1 and 63 in round 2. His style of play hasn’t transmitted to match play as he has finished outside the top-16 in four out of the last five years. He could win one round by five holes, and then lose his next match by the same score. Because of his inconsistencies, I want no part of him this week.
Kevin Kisner – Everyone is going to look at his record here and want to bet on him. Don’t fall for it. He’s finished 2nd, 18th, 1st and 1st here the last four years, so it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t love match play. However, he is a different player this year who is playing really bad golf. Coming into last years event, he was +1.05 total strokes gained to start the season which was 28th-best in the field. This year, he’s dead last in the field at -1.77 total strokes gained. His tee-to-green numbers are horrible and it explains why he’s missed the cut in four out of five events with a 75th as the one time he made the cut.
WGC Match Play Darlings
I’m just going to give you my lineup and what I’m thinking about doing this week. You get points per hole, per round so once guys start getting eliminated whatever lineup gets multiple guys to the end will cash. I’m just going to pick three favorites to come out of the group, and three really lower priced guys hoping that I get three out of group play, and at least one of them to make the final so I’m taking the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.
Scottie Scheffler ($11,000 on DraftKings) – He has a pretty easy group he should advance out of with Tom Kim, Alex Noren and Davis Riley not scaring me at all. He’s the highest priced guy for a reason, and I’ll take him.
Xander Schauffele ($10,300) – Besides Scheffler, he has my second-favorite group to come out of. Hoge finished 58th here last year, and has been inconsistent. Aaron Wise is completely lost this year and Cameron Davis has five missed cuts in his last six tournaments. Not much competition, he should roll.
Tyrell Hatton ($9,000) – Great price on Hatton who is eighth-best this year Total Strokes Gained and has finished ninth here in three out of four years. Henley, Herbert and Griffin offer very little resistance as Henley and Griffin have combined for one top-50 finish in their last eight tourneys, and Griffin has never played here. Hoping to get some points in the group play with these guys who I think are in weak groups.
Seamus Power ($7,200) – Sam Burns is the favorite in his group, and outside of last week, he’s been bad finishing 35th, MC, MC in his three previous tournaments. Adam Scott and Adam Hadwin are the other two in this group and Scott doesn’t have a top-20 finish this year and Hadwin has missed the cut in two out of three
Sepp Straka ($6,100) – Corey Conners has fallen off a cliff the last four tournaments. Davis Thompson hasn’t finished better than 53rd his last five tourneys, and Cameron Young’s putting is a serious issue in match play as he’s third-worst in this field.
Mackenzie Hughes ($6,100) – He’s been terrible, but he might get a win or a push in group play. Spieth is inconsistent, Shane Lowry is second-worst in putting this year in this field and Taylor Montgomery started off the year hot, but has really slowed down and had some horrible rounds in the last four tournaments.
WGC Match Play Best Bet
Tom Hoge over Aaron Wise Round 1 – Wise is a fade this year as he has been awful. In the last 30 days, Wise has played in three tourneys and is the third-worst Total Strokes Gained in the field. Most notably, he is -2.30 strokes gained tee-to-green. In that same span, Hoge is 11th-best in the field and is +1.27 Strokes Gained tee-to-green. They both played in the Arnold Palmer and The Players, and in four rounds they played together Hoge is 3-1 and has out-scored Wise by 15 strokes in those four rounds combined.