Because of the format, a Power Rankings for any match-play event should be consumed almost entirely as a straightforward preview replete with details about the host course, notable history among the qualifiers, trends and other nuggets to get you set for the tournament. As always, you've come to the right place for all of that.
But, oh, them vagaries. The "v-word" is a staple at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. While cliché and certainly overused, it's still not inaccurate to preface expectations accordingly.
With three rounds of pool play to determine the round of 16 that advance into the traditional knockout portion, anything can happen and always does. This is why you're encouraged to continue to adhere to the breadth of daily coverage at PGATOUR.com for every match will be previewed and recapped.
The first 16 golfers ranked below are who I have surviving pool play. Their position reflects logical reasoning based on the four golfers I have emerging from each of the sub-brackets as semifinalists. For example, because Bubba Watson is slotted fourth (or lowest among the semifinalists), Francesco Molinari is ranked fifth (or highest among the quarterfinalists) because they would meet in the quarters. Similarly, No. 8 Justin Thomas (lowest among the quarterfinalists) would meet No. 9 Jim Furyk (highest of the eight who wouldn't advance from the round of 16). Golfers sitting 17-64 are slotted subjectively.
POWER RANKINGS: WGC-DELL TECHNOLOGIES MATCH PLAY
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 16 Patrick Cantlay 15 Kiradech Aphibarnrat 14 Xander Schauffele 13 Justin Rose 12 Paul Casey 11 Sergio Garcia 10 Brooks Koepka 9 Jim Furyk 8 Justin Thomas 7 Ian Poulter 6 Dustin Johnson 5 Francesco Molinari 4 Bubba Watson 3 Jon Rahm 2 Tommy Fleetwood 1 Rory McIlroy
Power Rankings Continued
17. Louis Oosthuizen
18. Cameron Smith
19. Phil Mickelson
20. Bryson DeChambeau (first-timer)
21. Jason Day
22. Rafa Cabrera Bello
23. Marc Leishman
24. Thorbjørn Olesen
25. Gary Woodland
26. Matthew Fitzpatrick
27. Webb Simpson
28. Tiger Woods
29. Keith Mitchell (first-timer)
30. Byeong Hun An
31. Charles Howell III
32. Henrik Stenson
33. Brandt Snedeker
34. Hideki Matsuyama
35. Billy Horschel
36. Si Woo Kim
37. Tyrrell Hatton
38. Kevin Kisner
39. Matt Kuchar
40. Keegan Bradley
41. Tony Finau
42. HaoTong Li
43. Eddie Pepperell (first-timer)
44. Chez Reavie
45. Branden Grace
46. Matt Wallace (first-timer)
47. Russell Knox
48. Lee Westwood
49. Jordan Spieth
50. Alex Noren
51. Aaron Wise (first-timer)
52. Andrew Putnam (first-timer)
53. Shane Lowry
54. Abraham Ancer (first-timer)
55. Emiliano Grillo
56. J.B. Holmes
57. Patrick Reed
58. Satoshi Kodaira
59. Tom Lewis (first-timer)
60. Kevin Na
61. Luke List
62. Lucas Bjerregaard (first-timer)
63. Kyle Stanley
64. Justin Harding (first-timer)
The pursuit of the Walter Hagen Cup will begin on Wednesday, thus giving the Match Play the earliest start of any PGA TOUR event all season. Every golfer will face every other golfer in his opening pool of four for one match each on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Overall records in pool play determine who advances to the knockout competition on the weekend. More on this below.
For the fourth consecutive year, Austin Country Club provides the scenic backdrop. Big swingers Jason Day (2016), Dustin Johnson (2017) and Bubba Watson (2018) have prevailed in the Texas capital, but given how much of today's elite talent brings the muscle, it's not surprising. Yet, length off the tee is a bonus at Austin CC. It's a par 71 that tips at just 7,108 yards. Two-inch bermuda rough isn't overseeded, so the course is eminently playable through the green.
Although the tee at the par-4 15th hole was enlarged and trees near four greens were removed to enhance growth in those areas, there weren't any influential changes to the course since last year. Overseeded TifEagle bermuda greens have been prepped to touch 12 feet on the Stimpmeter. If there was an average on the PGA TOUR, that'd be it.
The 10 first-time participants will be contributing to the bank of data that has slowly revealed why the highest seeds perform the best. It's one vagary that doesn't need validation.
In three editions since Austin CC has hosted, 18 of the 48 pool-play survivors were seeded 1-16. Twelve were seeded 17-32. Nine advanced from each of the other two layers.
Only 21 of the 48 pool-play survivors opened 3-0-0, including Day and Johnson en route to their victory. Another 13 went 2-0-1 to advance, including Watson last year. A dozen who moved on went 2-1-0, while two managed to survive with a record of 1-0-2.
No golfer has survived pool play in all three editions that Austin CC hosted. During his title defense, DJ was the only golfer in last year's field with the chance to turn that trick, and he was the No. 1 seed, but he lost all three of his pool-play matches.
Parts of the field of 64 are going to face a little of everything that Mother Nature has to offer in Austin. After a benign first two days with daytime highs in the 70s, the threat of rain enters the picture. As the temperature rises to maybe 80 degrees on Friday, the precipitation could linger into Sunday when jackets will be commonplace with a high that might not reach 65 degrees. And, of course, wind will play a bit part until the weekend when it turns around and blows out of a northerly direction.
In addition to receiving 550 FedExCup points and $1.745 million, the winner will be eligible for PGA TOUR membership through at least 2021-22.
ROB BOLTON'S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings (Corales)
TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (Match Play), Fantasy Insider, One & Done (Match Play)
WEDNESDAY: One & Done (Corales)
THURSDAY: Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.