Bracket breakdown: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
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Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin
Groupings for the 2021 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play were announced Monday morning, with group play scheduled to begin on Wednesday at Austin Country Club.
No. 1 seed Dustin Johnson, who enters the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play as the top seed for the fourth consecutive year, will look to add to his 2017 title at Austin Country Club. He will go against Kevin Na (28), Robert MacIntyre (41) and Adam Long (61).
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Defending champion Kevin Kisner (34), who won the 2019 event as the No. 48 seed, will begin his long-awaited title defense, joining recent PLAYERS champion Justin Thomas (2), Louis Oosthuizen (22) and Matt Kuchar (52). Kisner defeated Kuchar, the 2013 champion, in the 2019 Championship match, 3 and 2. Oosthuizen has also advanced to the Championship match at Austin Country Club, falling to Jason Day in 2016.
Thomas has advanced out of group play in one of four previous appearances at Austin Country Club. In 2018, Thomas advanced to the Semifinals before falling to eventual champion Bubba Watson, 3 and 2.
Former University of Texas standout Jordan Spieth (49) lands in Group 15 with Matt Fitzpatrick (15), Matthew Wolff (20) and Corey Conners (37). In four career starts in the event at Austin Country Club, Spieth advanced out of his group in 2016 and was defeated by Oosthuizen, 4 and 2, in the round of 16.
Pool play will take place Wednesday through Friday, with each player competing once against the other players in his pool. The player with the best record from each pool – ties will be broken via sudden-death playoff – will advance to the Round of 16, which will take place Saturday along with the quarterfinals. The semifinals and final will be played Sunday.
The groupings for the 2021 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play are listed below. Our team at PGATOUR.COM compiled some quick notes on each.
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Dustin Johnson (1)
Kevin Na (34)
Robert MacIntyre (41)
Adam Long (61)
The favorite: Dustin Johnson. The reigning FedExCup champion also won this event in 2017. He’s uncharacteristically finished T48 and T54 in his past two starts.
Bracket buster (lower-ranked player to keep an eye on): Kevin Na. The winner of this year’s Sony Open in Hawaii was a quarterfinalist in 2019 and made the Round of 16 in 2017.
Favorite match: Johnson vs. Na. I always enjoy when players with drastically different games face off. The long and short of it is that these guys approach courses in drastically different fashion.
Justin Thomas (2)
Louis Oosthuizen (22)
Kevin Kisner (34)
Matt Kuchar (52)
The favorite: Justin Thomas. The TOUR’s top iron player put on a ball-striking clinic in his win at THE PLAYERS. It’s easy to imagine that run continuing in Austin.
Bracket buster: Kevin Kisner. He’s not only the defending champion. He also was runner-up in 2018 to Bubba Waston. Match play offers an opportunity for him to display his mettle.
Favorite match: Thomas vs. Kisner. Two great iron players and it’s easy to imagine the trash talking would be off the charts as well.
Jon Rahm (3)
Ryan Palmer (24)
Shane Lowry (38)
Sebastian Munoz (56)
The favorite: Jon Rahm. He was the runner-up to Johnson in 2017. His T9 at THE PLAYERS was his sixth top-10 in his last eight starts. The consistent, all-around game makes him a good fit for match play.
Bracket buster: Shane Lowry. The Open champion finished eighth at THE PLAYERS and was in contention through three rounds last week at The Honda. He already owns one World Golf Championship, as well.
Favorite match: Rahm vs. Ryan Palmer. We’ll call this one a friendly rivalry. The two are the defending champions at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after forming an unexpected pairing at TPC Louisiana.
Collin Morikawa (4)
Billy Horschel (32)
Max Homa (35)
J.T. Poston (63)
The favorite: Collin Morikawa. Right alongside Thomas on the short list of the TOUR’s best iron players. Recently won the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession to become the only player other than Tiger Woods to win a major and WGC before turning 25.
Bracket buster: Max Homa. He thrives on tough courses, winning The Genesis Invitational this year after claiming the Wells Fargo Championship in 2019. His favorite word is ‘relentless,’ a trait that will be needed this week.
Favorite match: Morikawa vs. Homa. The ratings for this showdown will be through the roof in Berkeley, California, where both attended college. Homa once said of Morikawa:“His ball striking is so good. He’s basically a robot. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him hit a bad shot.”
Bryson DeChambeau (5)
Tommy Fleetwood (21)
Si Woo Kim (45)
Antoine Rozner (58)
The favorite: Bryson DeChambeau. Everything is bigger in Texas except for DeChambeau, who recently admitted that he backed off his bodybuilding endeavor and has lost a little weight. He comes in on a hot streak, though, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard before finishing third at THE PLAYERS.
Bracket buster: Antoine Rozner. He snuck into the field with his win at the Qatar Masters, his second win in his last six European Tour starts.
Favorite match: DeChambeau vs. Tommy Fleetwood. Brute strength against a player known for precise iron play. DeChambeau saw it firsthand when he and Tiger Woods were beat, 5 and 4, by Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari in a foursomes match at the most recent Ryder Cup.
Xander Schauffele (6)
Scottie Scheffler (30)
Jason Day (44)
Andy Sullivan (57)
The favorite: Xander Schauffele. He’s coming off an uncharacteristic MC at THE PLAYERS after finishing in the top 25 in 24 of his previous 27 starts. He barely missed the Round of 16 in his previous two Match Play appearances.
Bracket buster: Jason Day. He recently changed to swing coach Chris Como and is playing a mixed bag of equipment after not renewing with TaylorMade. He’s finished no worse than T35 in his last four starts, and let’s not forget that he won this event in 2014 and 2016.
Favorite match: Schauffele vs. Scottie Scheffler. This match should be sch-weet (get it?). Scheffler is familiar with Austin CC after playing his college golf at Texas and he won the U.S. Junior, so he’s had some success as an amateur. The reigning Rookie of the Year is looking for his first TOUR win and maybe this is the week he gets it.
Patrick Reed (7)
Joaquin Niemann (26)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (33)
Bubba Watson (55)
The favorite: Patrick Reed. He famously went 6-0 in match play to lead Augusta State to consecutive NCAA titles. His Captain America persona was burnished by his performance in the Ryder and Presidents cups. Let’s just say he loves mano-a-mano situations, and he won earlier this year at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Bracket buster: Christiaan Bezuidenhout. There’s always an international player who’s introduced to us at these World Golf Championships, and Bezuidenhout seems like a prime candidate. He recently finished seventh at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
Favorite match: Reed vs. Bubba Watson. This will be an old-school affair. Reed is a grinder, relying on his nifty short game, while no one in the game curves it like Watson, the 2018 winner of this event.
Tyrrell Hatton (8)
Lee Westwood (18)
Sergio Garcia (39)
Matt Wallace (51)
The favorite: Tyrrell Hatton. He’s won three big titles in little more than a year – the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and BMW Championship in 2020, followed by the Abu Dhabi championship earlier this year. His MC at THE PLAYERS is his only finish outside the top 25 this year.
Bracket buster: Sergio Garcia. He’s in the midst of a resurgence after a win at the Sanderson Farms Championship and strong showing at THE PLAYERS. He also is a part-time resident of Austin and made it to the Round of 16 in the past two playings of this event.
Favorite match: Hatton vs. Lee Westwood. A generational tussle between two of England’s finest. Westwood ran out of steam at The Honda Classic, but that shouldn’t overshadow his strong play at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass.
Webb Simpson (9)
Paul Casey (17)
Mackenzie Hughes (48)
Talor Gooch (59)
The favorite: Webb Simpson. He seems to thrive on Pete Dye designs that favor precision over power. He has wins at the Dye-designed Harbour Town (2020 RBC Heritage), TPC Sawgrass (2018 THE PLAYERS) and TPC of Louisiana (2011 Zurich Classic of New Orleans).
Bracket buster: Talor Gooch. The Texas resident may catch the field by surprise after sneaking into the field by surprise after sneaking into the field with a T5 finish at THE PLAYERS. He’s 33rd on TOUR this season in Strokes Gained: Total.
Favorite match: Simpson vs. Paul Casey. Casey will be a tough out. He’s made the Round of 16 in three of the last five years.
Patrick Cantlay (10)
Hideki Matsuyama (23)
Carlos Ortiz (42)
Brian Harman (54)
The favorite: Patrick Cantlay. Before a missed cut at THE PLAYERS, he was riding a streak of six straight top-20s, including a win at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ Sherwood. A solid all-around game should suit him in this format. He barely missed the Round of 16 in his previous two appearances.
Bracket buster: Brian Harman. The lefty is made in the mold of his fellow Georgia Bulldog, Kevin Kisner. He was a decorated amateur in part because of his match-play prowess. He won the U.S. Junior and played with Anthony Kim in the Walker Cup before starting college.
Favorite match: Cantlay vs. Hideki Matsuyama. This will allow me to make references to their tight battle for low-amateur honors in the 2012 Masters. Look it up. It was a doozy.
Rory McIlroy (11)
Cameron Smith (25)
Lanto Griffin (46)
Ian Poulter (60)
The favorite: Rory McIlroy. He looked a bit lost leaving TPC Sawgrass but is still one of the world’s best players and there would be no surprise if he sorted out in his week off. He also won the first edition of this championship that used the pool-play format (2015).
Bracket buster: Cameron Smith. The Aussie with the nifty short game will be a tough out. He’s also coming off three straight top-20s in big events (fourth, Genesis Invitational; T11, WGC-Workday; T17, THE PLAYERS).
Favorite match: McIlroy vs. Ian Poulter: McIlroy has all the physical talent in the world, but Poulter makes up for it with grit and his putter. Should be a fun match.
Tony Finau (12)
Jason Kokrak (29)
Will Zalatoris (40)
Dylan Frittelli (64)
The favorite: Tony Finau. The ultra-steady Finau has top-10 finishes in five of his last eight starts, including a playoff loss at The Genesis Invitational. He was a tough out in match play at the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne, where he boosted the U.S. Team with three crucial ties and went 0-1-3.
Bracket buster: Jason Kokrak. He is coming off three straight top-10 finishes, including a T9 at THE PLAYERS Championship, where his final-round 67 was one of the best of the day.
Favorite match: Kokrak vs. Will Zalatoris. Although Kokrak is the hottest player in the group, Zalatoris has nothing to lose and is coming off a solid Florida swing that included a top-25 at THE PLAYERS and T10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
Viktor Hovland (13)
Abraham Ancer (27)
Bernd Wiesberger (43)
Kevin Streelman (53)
The favorite: Viktor Hovland. The fourth-ranked player in the FedExCup has been on a dizzying ascent with five top-15 finishes in his last eight starts, including his second TOUR win at the Mayakoba Golf Classic presented by UNIFIN. Missed cut at THE PLAYERS was his first in over a year.
Bracket buster: Ancer will no doubt be in a fine mood after watching close friend Roberto Diaz win on the Korn Ferry Tour, and Ancer went 3-1-1 at the 2019 Presidents Cup.
Favorite match: Hovland vs. Ancer. They aren’t giants by height but they’re two players you might really like to avoid in match play. They’ll lock horns in first-round action Wednesday.
Daniel Berger (14)
Harris English (19)
Brendon Todd (47)
Erik van Rooyen (62)
Favorite: Daniel Berger. The 15th-ranked player in the FedExCup, who won the Charles Schwab Challenge when the TOUR returned last June, has kept his foot on the gas this season. His four top-10 finishes in 10 starts include another victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am just last month.
Bracket buster: Brendon Todd. With the pandemic cancelling last year’s tournament, the streaky Todd will be making his first start in Austin since revitalizing his career at the end of 2019.
Favorite match: Berger vs. Harris English. First-rounder between Berger (AT&T Pebble Beach) and English (Sentry Tournament of Champions) features two recent winners and FSU/Georgia flavor. English also WD’d from THE PLAYERS with an injury, adding intrigue. Berger withdrew from last week's Honda Classic, as well, so we're not sure which injured golfer poses the biggest threat.
Matt Fitzpatrick (15)
Matthew Wolff (20)
Corey Conners (37)
Jordan Spieth (49)
Favorite: Matt Fitzpatrick. England’s Fitzpatrick is not only the hottest in this group, he’s also one of the hottest in the field after top-10 finishes in three of his last four starts and a T11 in the other.
Bracket buster: Corey Conners. The quiet, unassuming Canadian contended at THE PLAYERS (solo 7th) and the Arnold Palmer Invitational (solo third). He’d shock no one by winning the group.
Favorite match: Jordan Spieth vs. Matthew Wolff. Can a resurgent Spieth keep up his recent run of good play? Is Wolff healthy again after a frustrating start to 2021? Stay tuned as two guys who have been called America’s next great player battle it out for the point.
Sungjae Im (16)
Victor Perez (31)
Marc Leishman (36)
Russell Henley (50)
Favorite: Sungjae Im. This is the first WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play start for Im, who is coming off a T8 in his defense at The Honda Classic. His T17 at THE PLAYERS featured a final-round 66.
Bracket buster: Russell Henley. He is coming off a final-round 68 and a T3 finish at The Honda Classic, where he led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (+8.169) for the week.
Favorite match: Henley vs. Marc Leishman. Underdog Leishman easy to overlook after missing the cut in his last two TOUR starts but finished T9 the last time this tournament was held, in 2019.
Sean Martin manages PGATOUR.COM’s staff of writers as the Lead, Editorial. He covered all levels of competitive golf at Golfweek Magazine for seven years, including tournaments on four continents, before coming to the PGA TOUR in 2013. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.