By News Team
24th March 2021
We’re in for something different this week in the golfing world with the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play taking centre stage at Austin Country Club in Texas.
The format was changed a few years ago and now sees 16 groups of four golfers taking each other on with the best player over the first three days advancing to the last 16.
On Saturday morning the winners of each group meet in the round of 16, with the quarter-finals being staged on Saturday afternoon. The semi-finals and final, as well as the third-place playoff, or consolation match, will be played on Sunday.
Here is our look ahead to all the action.
Match Play expert Casey looks the play
Though now a 43-year-old, Paul Casey is still playing some of the best golf of his life. The Englishman seems to have found a new lease of life in 2021 and has yet to finish outside of the top 10 in four starts on the PGA Tour this season. He was also victorious at the Dubai Desert Classic which confirmed he’s very much a force to still be reckoned with. In fact, his 12th-placed finish at the Saudi International was his worst result this year, so he’s yet to register a bad week in 2021 and will be full of confidence heading into an event he has a strong record in.
Casey finished runner-up in consecutive years (2009 and 2010) when the tournament was played at Dove Mountain, while he is also a former winner of the Volvo World Match Play at Wentworth. Throw in the fact he has a formidable Ryder Cup record and this is a player that thrives in the Match Play format and looks poised for another strong week in Austin.
He looks to have been given a potentially good draw too with Webb Simpson, who boasts a very poor record in this event, the highest-ranked player. He’s lost eight of the nine matches he’s played in Austin and looks beatable here, while Taylor Gooch and Mackenzie Hughes, the other two members of the group, are lacking in experience. Casey is 6/4 to win his group, while he looks a great bet for the entire tournament at 25/1.
Smith can take it to McIlroy and Co
Cameron Smith is the other player who looks worthy of consideration this week. The Australian is another who has enjoyed a stellar few months, headlined by a tie for second at last year’s Masters, where he impressed many with his tenacity and courage. He showed similar tenacity in the Presidents Cup in 2019 as well when winning the Sony Open, and he’s a player that many will fear here.
Being drawn in the same group as Rory McIlroy would, on paper, appear a negative, but Rory has been off-colour for a while now and this just might be a good time to play him. The Northern Irishman has been battling his swing and is in the process of changing coach, both of which are big enough negatives to think he could be susceptible here. In contrast, Smith is full of confidence and was beaten in the quarter-finals here in 2018, so has form around the course too.