2023 WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Preview, Picks & Analysis
THE top 64 players in the world are eligible to play in the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play, with Scottie Scheffler defending one of the four titles he won during a quite extraordinary run in 2022.
He has already retained the WM Phoenix Open, in the process reclaiming the top spot in the world rankings from Rory McIlroy. The American has since won The Players Championship, establishing himself as the man to beat.
This is an event that favours golfers who make lots of birdies. That may sound pretty obvious, but the point is that a bad hole in this format is simply that - one bad hole. A disaster can cost you a 72-hole tournament but here a quadruple bogey here means you lose a hole and move on.
And Scheffler will fancy his chances of making another successful title defence because he makes an awful lot of birdies.
However, this is a tournament that has seen some surprising winners. These include Jeff Maggert, Kevin Sutherland, Hunter Mahan, Geoff Ogilvy (twice) and Kevin Kisner. Some of golf’s big beasts have also claimed the title - Tiger Woods (three times), Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Scheffler.
The players are split into 16 groups of four players (each group has a player seeded 1-16, 17-32, 33-48, 49-64). Each group plays in a round-robin format on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. One point is awarded for a win, and one-half point for a tie, with only the group winner qualifying to the next round. If two or more players are tied at the top of the group, there is a sudden death stroke play tie-breaker played to decide who progresses. Lose your first match and your week is all but done.
The second phase is played as a knock out tournament, with the round of 16 and quarter-finals played on Saturday, and the semi-final, third-place playoff and final played on Sunday.
Scheffler cruised to a comfortable 4&3 victory 12 months ago. Having successfully defended his title in Phoenix, can be do so again? On average, he makes almost five birdies every time he plays so the answer is a resounding yes. This is a golfer who most definitely possesses the X-factor.
(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)
It is something of a surprise that McIlroy has only won this tournament twice because both the course and the format are made for him. The Northern Irishman makes plenty of birdies and, as he would be the first to admit, also throws in more than his fair share of dropped shots. But he can shrug off a bad hole in this format.
And because he hits the ball so far, most of his approach shots will be played with a short iron in his hands. And the beauty of matchplay is that he can afford to be more aggressive than normal on the greens. If there is one area of his game that has improved out of sight over the past year or so then it is most definitely his putting, the result of all the hard work he has put in with Brad Faxon.
I also fancy Jordan Spieth’s chances for exactly the same reason. Like McIlroy, he is prone to the odd disaster. This can be really destructive in a 72-hole stroke play event but not in matchplay. And nobody, but nobody, holes more clutch putts than this guy.
It was won in 2015 by Rory McIlroy, in 2016 by Jason Day, in 2017 by Dustin Johnson, in 2018 by Bubba Watson, in 2019 by Kevin Kisner, in 2021 by Billy Horschel and in 2022 by Scottie Scheffler.
It should be a straight shoot-out between Jon Rahm, who simply cannot stop winning this year, defending champion Scottie Scheffler and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. It would be a huge surprise if one of the lesser lights in the top 64 comes out on top this week.
Austin Country Club was established in 1899 and moved to its present site in 1984 to a layout designed by the legendary Pete Dye and has been the host course for the Dell Technologies Match Play since 2016. It is a par 72 measuring 7,106 yards. It is located along the banks of the Colorado River with Austin's iconic Pennybacker Bridge as its backdrop. Water comes into play in each of the first five holes so you really need to be accurate from the tee.
Rory McIlroy. A second win here is long overdue
Scottie Scheffler. This format is made for him
Jon Rahm. Playing the best golf of his life
Five to Follow:
Rory McIlroy. Looking to reclaim top spot in the rankings
Scottie Scheffler. Has some great memories from 12 months ago
Jon Rahm. Simply has no weaknesses
Jordan Spieth. Matchplay format should suit the American
Tyrrell Hatton. Usually plays his best golf early in the year
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