THE FIRST LOOK
The First Look: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
March 17, 2017
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- For the second year in a row, Austin Country Club will play host to the World Golf Championship - Dell Technologies Match Play. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
• COURSE: Austin Country Club, 7,108 yards, par 71. The Pete Dye design overlooking Lake Austin is back for its second edition as Match Play host, having proved a worthy challenge in its debut. Built in 1984, the course is marked by two distinctly different nines. The front nine is on higher ground and typical of the surrounding Texas hill country, while the “lowlands” nine runs alongside Lake Austin and offers a spectacular backdrop for finishing matches. Austin CC dates back to 1899, believed to be the oldest golf club in Texas, though it went through two relocations to settle on its current site. Austin was the original locale for the Legends of Golf from 1978-94, and the city later hosted another PGA TOUR Champions stop from 2003-09.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 550 points.
• CHARITY: The First Tee is the primary beneficiary of World Golf Championships events. Four local charities also have been named as beneficiaries: The Austin Parks Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, Helping Hand Home for Children and Keep Austin Beautiful.
• FIELD WATCH: World No.1 Dustin Johnson, seeking to win a third consecutive start, and defending champion Jason Day headline this year’s lineup, as 61 of the world’s top 64 come to Austin. … Though Adam Hadwin qualified with his Valspar Championship win, it conflicts with his pending wedding. … The other absences come from the world’s top 15: No.5 Henrik Stenson, No.8 Adam Scott, No.9 Rickie Fowler and No.13 Justin Rose. … Moving into the lineup will be Jason Dufner, K.T. Kim, Joost Luiten, Pat Perez and Si Woo Kim. … Lee Westwood is set for his 17th WGC Match Play start, one ahead of Jim Furyk on the all-time list.
• LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY: 9 & 8, Tiger Woods def. Stephen Ames (1st round, 2006 at La Costa Resort & Spa).
• LONGEST MATCH: 26 holes, Mike Weir def. Loren Roberts (1st round, 2003 at La Costa), Scott Verplank def. Lee Westwood (1st round, 2006 at La Costa).
• LAST YEAR: Day, who considered withdrawing two days in when his back seized up on him, wound up taking home the trophy with his second victory in as many weeks. The Aussie did it with an epic Sunday, outlasting Rory McIlroy in a memorable semifinal before capping the week with a 5&4 romp over Oosthuizen. That was the largest margin in the title match since Tiger Woods blitzed Stewart Cink by an 8&7 count in 2008, also returning Day to No.1 in the world rankings. He had come to Austin off a victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Oosthuizen also played a role in returning Day to No.1, knocking out Jordan Spieth in the Round of 16.
• STORYLINES: Johnson, who took home trophies from both the Genesis Open and WGC Mexico Championship, will try to become the first man to win three consecutive starts since Rory McIlroy in 2014. Johnson also can be the first to win back-to-back WGCs since Tiger Woods in 2013. … Day will try to win his third WGC Match Play in the past four editions, also having triumphed in 2014 in Arizona. He now owns a 21-6 record in the event. … Monday’s draw has been turned into a TV event at the Van Zandt Hotel in downtown Austin. The world rankings will determine the 16 top seeds, with blind draws to fill the other slots from groups of players ranked Nos. 21-36, Nos. 37-53 and the remainder.
• SHORT CHIPS: Jon Rahm, who triumphed at Torrey Pines two months ago, is one of nine players set to tee it up in their first WGC Match Play. In a rare occurrence, no one will be making his WGC debut. … England’s Ross Fisher and Japan’s Yuta Ikeda are back in the WGC Match Play for the first time since 2011. … University of Texas fans have two former Longhorns to throw their support behind this week. Not only is Jordan Spieth back again, but Jhonattan Vegas is among the Match Play debutants.
• TELEVISION: Wednesday-Friday, 2-8 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.(GC), 2-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (GC), 3-7 p.m. (NBC).
• PGA TOUR LIVE: Wednesday-Friday, 10:15 a.m.-4 p.m. ET (featured groups), 4-8 p.m.(featured holes).
• RADIO: Wednesday-Friday, 2-8 p.m. ET. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).