Picks & Predictions WGC Dell Match Play

2021 WGC Dell Match Play Group By Group Breakdown: My Picks & Predictions For All 16 Group Pairings

A lot of people are going to grind the stats and models this week to identify the best Match Play players and the best course fits to Austin Country Club. I won’t be one of those people this week. The truth is, you can be the second worst player in the entire field any given day in Match Play and still win if your opponent is playing worse than you are. That’s why I don’t put a ton of stock behind historical Matchup Records, save a few positive or negative outliers. Instead, my strategy this week is really to incorporate some game theory to embrace the volatility and get exposure to under-owned or under-valued players with win potential. I’m also using the good old fashioned eye test to identify players who are playing well recently and who can be trusted to step over some pressure putts and drain them.

With all of that said, I don’t have a very analytical approach to this week, and frankly I don’t think it’s necessary to think too hard about the stats and data for this event. I’m just looking for a path to get on high value players I think can climb their way out of group play and into the Round of Sixteen.

So below within each group, you’ll find every player’s OWGR rank, Draft Kings DFS price, and Odds to win, my pick to advance from each group, and a brief write up of how I see each group’s matchups playing out. That’s it, so away we go!

Group 1

  • Dustin Johnson (1, $11,500, 14/1)
  • Kevin Na (34, $7,100, 125/1)
  • Robert MacIntyre (41, $6,500, 175/1)
  • Adam Long (61, $6,000, 250/1) 

My Pick: Kevin Na

I said before groups were announced that Kevin Na was my favorite value on the board opening at 100/1. Then when groups were drawn and he landed with DJ, his odds dropped even further to 125/1. So I’m still in on Na. Is he likely to beat Dustin Johnson? No. But Kevin Na tends to win in moments where he’s not supposed to. He won the Sony Open only 5 starts ago and has 3 wins over the last year and a half, so we know he’s just a hot putter away from taking over. DJ has not had a great recent stretch on Bermuda, finishing T54 at the WGC Workday followed by a T48 at THE PLAYERS, so if there’s ever a time to bet against DJ’s form, I guess you could say it’s now.

Group 2

  • Justin Thomas (2, $11,200, 14/1)
  • Louis Oosthuizen (22, $8,100, 45/1)
  • Kevin Kisner (34, $7,600, 70/1)
  • Matt Kuchar (52, $6,700, 150/1) 

My Pick: Louis Oosthuizen

This truly is the Group of Death and I don’t think it’s particularly close. Kisner and Kuchar were in the finals when this event was last contested in 2019 and Louis Oosthuizen advanced to the Quarter Finals that same year. And then there’s the #2 player in the world in Justin Thomas who coasts into this event on the heels of a win at THE PLAYERS Championship. It’s tough to bet against JT coming off of his last appearance, but I’m thinking of this as a leverage play with Louis, who caught the ire of the Fantasy Community last we saw him as a late WD at the API. While the thought of potentially playing 54-hole days is terrifying when backing a WD-prone player like Louis, I like the leverage in this spot for one of the most reliable short game players in the world.

Group 3

  • Jon Rahm (3, $10,300, 14/1)
  • Ryan Palmer (24, $7,000, 70/1)
  • Shane Lowry (38, $7,100, 125/1)
  • Sebastian Munoz (56, $6,100, 175/1) 

My Pick: Jon Rahm

I’ve seen some people refer to this as the Group of Death and I’m really just not seeing it that way, as I have Jon Rahm head and shoulders above the rest here. Munoz, bless his heart, does not have a full first round in which he can lead this week, so I have no allegiance with him to pull for. Palmer and Lowry have proven to be good, not great players on Tour in 2021, so in many other groups I would consider choosing them to advance, but not here against Jon Rahm. Rahm is due for another win soon on Tour, and this WGC event seems like a great place for him to vie for another W.

Group 4

  • Collin Morikawa (4, $10,400, 20/1)
  • Billy Horschel (32, $7,200, 90/1)
  • Max Homa (35, $7,400, 90/1)
  • J.T. Poston (63, $6,300, 175/1) 

My Pick: Max Homa

I don’t see Billy Horschel or JT Poston as much of a threat in this group, despite how well they putt on Bermuda greens, so this is between Morikawa and Homa for me. Both players have recently won loaded fields in the last month. Both players have also won in playoffs over the last year, which is the closest simulation we’ve seen to a Match Play since the WGC Dell was last played in 2019. Over the last 24 rounds, Homa ranks #8 SG: TOT in this field compared to Morikawa who ranks #18 in the same span. With so much similarity in recent form, I’m happy to take the $3K discount on Homa on Draft Kings and hope for the best.

Group 5

  • Bryson DeChambeau (5, $10,900, 14/1)
  • Tommy Fleetwood (21, $7,800, 55/1)
  • Si Woo Kim (45, $7,300, 90/1)
  • Antoine Rozner (58, $6,200, 175/1) 

My Pick: Bryson DeChambeau

This should be a cake walk for Bryson, who (spoiler alert) is my eventual pick to win the Match Play this year. His game is in full swing right now, and if not for the Sunday blow up at the 4th hole of TPC Sawgrass when we last saw him, he would have won back to back events at the API and PLAYERS coming in to this WGC. If he enjoyed success on one short Pete Dye track two weeks ago, I don’t see why we should expect any different this time around, especially in a format where one blow-up double bogey can’t ruin your round. With Bryson, you can come to expect he won’t be phased by the pressure 8-foot par or birdie putts he’ll need to sink to win holes, and his SMU ties should make for somewhat of a homecoming with this trip back to Texas. Si Woo will command some ownership because it’s a Pete Dye course as will Tommy just by way of being Fairway Jesus. But I won’t be so tempted to stray away from Bryson in this spot.

Group 6

  • Xander Schauffele (6, $10,000, 28/1)
  • Scottie Scheffler (30, $7,900, 45/1)
  • Jason Day (44, $8,400, 50/1)
  • Andy Sullivan (57, $6,000, 275/1) 

My Pick: Scottie Scheffler

The most appropriately priced player in this entire tournament is Andy Sullivan at a flat $6,000, 275/1. Against these other 3, he may not make it halfway through the back nine all week. Jason Day will receive a lot of hype this week for being a multi-winner at the WGC Dell Match Play with a stellar career Match Play record, but this is not the Jason Day of old this week. He is showing flashes in his game, but I’m not sold that he’s back to his vintage self this week. Looking at Schauffele vs Scheffler, I think it’s a lot tighter than the odds suggest when we look at local longhorn, Scottie Scheffler. DFS-wise, I can see Xander as a nice leverage play in this loaded field, but personally I’ll be leaning towards Scottie this week.

Group 7

  • Patrick Reed (7, $9,600, 28/1)
  • Joaquin Niemann (26, $8,000, 45/1)
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout (33, $7,600, 70/1)
  • Bubba Watson (55, $7,400, 125/1) 

My Pick: Patrick Reed

When I think of Match Play, I think of Patrick Reed, and while I went into this week expecting to be the BezuidenTout, I just don’t see him faring better in this group than Patrick Reed, who should stack up well on this track. Niemann may command some popularity this week, but I see PGA National as a better fit for him than Austin Country Club, which will put much more emphasis on the short game he’s still developing, and since the Honda Classic didn’t pan out for him, I don’t feel so tempted to go back to him here. I’m not thinking twice about backing 2018 champion Bubba Watson, who’s lost me enough money in the first two months of this year to swear me off him for the remainder of 2021. It’s a very talented group, but I expect Reed to cruise through in the end.

Group 8

  • Tyrrell Hatton (8, $8,600, 35/1)
  • Lee Westwood (18, $7,700, 60/1)
  • Sergio Garcia (39, $8,300, 45/1)
  • Matt Wallace (51, $7,000, 125/1) 

My Pick: Tyrrell Hatton

I don’t have any confidence in anyone from this group, so I’m taking the safe way out and deferring to the 8th player in the world, Tyrrell Hatton. I know that I don’t want to play Lee Westwood or Matt Wallace who each looked decrepit at last week’s Honda Classic. And I don’t trust Sergio Garcia over a pressure Match Play putt this week, regardless of what his career Match Play numbers say. So by default I’m left with Tyrrell Hatton who’s looked just fine state-side recently with a T22, T21, and MC thus far in 2021.

Group 9

  • Webb Simpson (9, $9,100, 35/1)
  • Paul Casey (17, $8,900, 26/1)
  • Mackenzie Hughes (48, $6,100, 175/1)
  • Talor Gooch (59, $6,600, 125/1) 

My Pick: Paul Casey

I like, but don’t love, all 4 players in this group, so this was one of the toughest calls for me to make this week. Webb Simpson’s game in theory should stack up well in Match Play, given his all around strengths and consistency, but he has one of the worst career Match Play records of any top-seed in the field this week. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Paul Casey is someone I would expect to have a poor career Match Play record given his historical short game shortcomings, and yet he boasts one of the best career Match Play records in the field. Mackenzie Hughes engaged with me on Twitter last week, so naturally I have to pull for him for the rest of the year now (that’s how that works), it’s just hard for me to see him finishing ahead of Casey and Webb with how well they’re playing. Same goes for Talor Gooch, who as we all know has this website’s full support, I think he just got a raw deal in this drawing. So in the end I’m just going to go with Paul Casey, who rides the best overall recent form in this group.

Group 10

  • Patrick Cantlay (10, $9,800, 22/1)
  • Hideki Matsuyama (23, $8,200, 50/1)
  • Carlos Ortiz (42, $6,800, 125/1)
  • Brian Harman (54, $7,200, 90/1) 

My Pick: Carlos Ortiz

We are going off the grid here but Carlos Ortiz in the $6K, 100/1+ range is too good for me to pass up. The last time Carlos Ortiz was in the lone star state, he was hoisting the trophy at the Houston Open, so this should be a welcomed homecoming for the pride of Mexico. He ranks 7th in the field and best in this group SG: SG and a a solid 17th in SG: OTT over the same L24 span. Patrick Cantlay is a tough guy to bet against with his steady all around game, but he looked human for the first time in a long time at THE PLAYERS last we saw him, so I’m willing to take a flier against him here.

Group 11

  • Rory McIlroy (11, $10,200, 20/1)
  • Cameron Smith (25, $8,500, 35/1)
  • Lanto Griffin (46, $6,900, 125/1)
  • Ian Poulter (60, $6,700, 125/1) 

My Pick: Rory McIlroy

Yes, Rory has been disappointing in 2021 and it’s easy to get cute and pick his group as the one in which a value player will move on from. Ian Poulter does have that impeccable Match Play record after all and won this event 11 years ago. But by normal, non-Rory McIlroy standards, he’s still on one of the hottest stretches in golf right now with 9 T20 finishes over his last 12 events. Smith’s great short game is the formula you want for Match Play, but at 35/1, I don’t think his valuation puts enough respect on Rory McIlroy as a Match Play adversary.

Group 12

  • Tony Finau (12, $9,200, 28/1)
  • Jason Kokrak (29, $7,500, 70/1)
  • Will Zalatoris (40, $7,900, 55/1)
  • Dylan Frittelli (64, $6,500, 175/1)

My Pick: Tony Finau

I was ready to pick against Finau as the top seed in the opening round before the final groups were decided, but looking at this drawing, I’d really be stretching to give anyone but Finau a chance to move on to the next round. Zalatoris and Frittelli both have Texas ties which can be a nice plus here, but I don’t trust them on the greens enough to pull away in a Match Play event. Jason Kokrak, priced appropriately, strikes me as a guy who will finish 1-1-1 in this group, so I’m not taking the leap to back him to move on.

Group 13

  • Viktor Hovland (13, $9,400, 28/1)
  • Abraham Ancer (27, $7,700, 55/1)
  • Bernd Wiesberger (43, $6,200, 250/1)
  • Kevin Streelman (53, $6,300, 150/1)

My Pick: Abraham Ancer

I’m sure Bernd Wiesberger and Kevin Steelman were thrilled to get their invite to this WGC event, but the only trophy they’re leaving with this week is a participation trophy. So in a toss up between Hovland and Ancer, my heart says take the value and go with our man who we know from two weeks ago is the #1 Ball Striker on sub-7,200 yard tracks, and Pete Dye specialist: Abraham Ancer.

Group 14

  • Daniel Berger (14, $9,000, 35/1)
  • Harris English (19, $7,300, 90/1)
  • Brendon Todd (47, $6,400, 125/1)
  • Erik van Rooyen (62, $6,400, 175/1)

My Pick: Brendon Todd

I hate this group. I don’t feel strongly for anyone here, and there’s no doubt I’ll be picking against this winner in the Round of 16. Berger has one of the worst career Match Play records of any top seeds and comes in with questionable health after a rib injury forced a WD from last week’s Honda Classic. Harris English is the coldest player on the PGA Tour since his win at the Sentry TOC, and also WD’d from his last event at THE PLAYERS. So as far as values go, I’ll definitely want exposure to either Todd or EVR in DFS to get salary relief from two players I believe have plenty potential to make it through to the next round. In the end, I lean Brendon Todd who ranks #1 in this field SG: SG over the last 50 rounds. The fact this is a shorter, sub-7,200 yard track should also bode well for a player in Todd who ranks dead last in this field in Driving Distance.

Group 15

  • Matt Fitzpatrick (15, $8,700, 35/1)
  • Matthew Wolff (20, $6,900, 125/1)
  • Corey Conners (37, $7,800, 55/1)
  • Jordan Spieth (49, $9,300, 26/1)

My Pick: Matthew Wolff

Besides Matthew Wolff’s immediate family, I may be the only person out here with confidence in him over this loaded group. But I’m embracing the randomness that comes with Match Play and jumping on the exceptional value we’re getting on the 20th ranked golfer in the world who falls to the $6K range on DK and 125/1 on the betting board. Every narrative for this week favors Jordan Spieth, the local Longhorn with a solid career Match Play record, hot recent form, and masterful short game. But at the end of the day it’s Jordan Spieth we’re talking about, so if he is the chalk play, I have no problem pivoting elsewhere. Fitzpatrick is also playing very well coming in, but I worry about his game in pressure moments. Conners’ ball striking is also as hot as anyone’s in this field, but short game wins Match Plays, and in that department, he’s surely lacking.

Group 16

  • Sungjae Im (16, $8,800, 35/1)
  • Victor Perez (31, $6,600, 150/1)
  • Marc Leishman (36, $6,800, 125/1)
  • Russell Henley (50, $7,500, 70/1)

My Pick: Sungjae Im

I expect Sungjae to cruise through this group, and have him riding all the way to the Final 4 in my brackets. He should receive little resistance from Victor Perez and Marc Leishman who are in a different class than Sungjae coming in. Russell Henley is a sneaky gamer, and we all know I love him, but we haven’t really seen him hold his composure in high pressure moments recently, so in a heads up match to move on, I lean Sungjae.