Out of the Rough: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (2023)
It’s the end of the era for the World Golf Championship (WGC) Dell Technology Match Play as this year will be the final year of the event.
This will leave the PGA Tour schedule without a match play event.
Due to the length of the event, it gets a Wednesday start as the first round is slated for March 22nd and will run through Sunday March 26th.
The event has been going since 1999 and has been played at La Costa Resort, Metropolitan Golf Club, Dove Mountain and TPC Harding Park.
For the eighth consecutive year, the WGC Dell Technology Match Play will be held at its regular home in Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas.
Austin Country Club is a Pete Dye design and as is the case with most Pete Dye designs, the course is another positional, strategists’ course.
It plays as a par 71 at 7,108 yards. It too features desert-style firm and fast conditions.
Players will need to manage water, winds, sloping fairways and deep fairway sand bunkers.
The rough at Austin Country Club is a 0.4-inch dormant Rye that is some of the shortest we’ll see on Tour. It allows for more rollout from the drives just off the fairway, allowing bombers off the tee to let it loose.
Although the rough is short, finding the fairway still is important, negating the importance of driving the ball long. In other words, the course plays to both bombers and fairway-finders alike.
The greens are a Bermuda overseeded with Poa. The greens are similar to what we saw recently at both TPC Sawgrass and Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course.
Part of Austin Country Club is its iconic risk-reward par-four 13th, which depending on the wind direction, can either be a very gettable eagle opportunity or a surefire way to lose a hole if they come up short in the water.
Additionally the course features five par-fours under 400 yards and four par-fours in the 450-500 yard range.
Match play is very hard to predict for bettors. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the event as there is no guarantee that matchups make it through all 18 holes. Therefore taking the totality of the course into consideration isn’t a surefire way to break down the event or course.
The field will feature the top 64 players in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR.)
The event is formatted as the top 16 golfers in the OWGR take their own group. They are then joined by three randomly drawn competitors from the subsequent groups of 16 (17-32, 33-48 & 49-64.)
From there, the groups of four play each other in head-to-head matchups in a round-robin format. The winner gets a point and tie counts as half-a-point. Whoever of the group collects the most points through the round-robin format advances to a traditional 16-person bracket.
In the end, the two finalists will have played seven-rounds of golf, give-or-take, from Wednesday through Sunday.
All of the big names of the PGA Tour will be in attendance as those outside of the top 64 OWGR will head to the Dominican Republic to take on the Corales Puntacana Championship.
Scottie Scheffler continued his red-hot 2022 a year ago by edging Kevin Kisner to claim the title and comes in this year as the defending champion. Scheffler was the runner up in 2021 as well.
The event is tagged in the “elevated event” portion of the schedule with a $20,000,000 purse and the winner taking home $3,600,000.
As previously mentioned, this is a hard event to predict on the betting forefront. We’ll give it our best in giving you the best advice we possibly can.
As for weather, we’ll see a strong chance of rain from Wednesday to Friday. As of the time of writing this there is a 30-percent chance for precipitation on Wednesday, 50-percent on Thursday and 90-percent on Friday. With the rain will come some high winds. Winds are set to peak at 16 miles-per-hour on Thursday with 14 miles-per-hour set for Wednesday and 10 miles-per-hour set for Friday. The winds will die down over the weekend, as well as the rain, through Saturday and Sunday. Highs will remain in the low 80-degrees throughout the entirety of the event.
Important statistics to consider this week include:
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT)
Sand Saves Percentage
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda (SG: PUTT Bermuda)
Birdie or Better Percentage
Par 5 Scoring Average
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
With the way this tournament is set up, it is important and essentially necessary to have just one golfer per opening round-robin group. Therefore, along with a limited field of just 64 attendees, this week I will suggest just one player per price group. I too will mention those I will be placing outright on along the way. Leading the way, as always, is my favorite this week in Jon Rahm ($11,000.) Rahm is currently first on Tour in birdie or better percentage, second in par five scoring average, third in GIR%, fifth in SG: APP, 13th in SG: ATG, 29th in SG: OTT, 44th in scrambling, 50th in SG: PUTT Bermuda and 59th in sand saves percentage. When Rahm is on his game, there is no one better in the World than him. He most recently withdrew unexpectedly from the The Players following the first round of play. Prior to that he went T39th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Before that he was on a historic run, winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The American Express and the Genesis Invitational. In that same time span he placed third at the WM Phoenix Open and T7th at the Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm has the second lowest odds in the field at +1000, second only to Scottie Scheffler at +800. As Rahm is my favorite and although his odds are low, I will be placing three units on him. Rahm got a fair draw in the round-robin first round. Joining him are Billy Horschel (22,) Keith Mitchell (39) and Rickie Fowler (49.) The biggest part of DFS this week is having a golfer making as deep of a run as possible. With Rahm being the best golfer in the world, I’m all in on him.
In this second price range, I’m going with Tony Finau ($9,800.) Finau always scores high in these statistical based models. He’s currently third on Tour in birdie or better percentage, fourth in SG: APP, seventh in par five scoring average, 11th in GIR%, 20th in scrambling, 25th in SG: OTT, 38th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 45th in sand saves percentage and 82nd in SG: ATG. He comes second in our model to just Rahm. Finau has not finished worse than T24th on the calendar year. In seven tournaments played on the calendar year he has placed in the top 25 in all of them. In that same time span he also has placed top 20 in six events, top 15 in three and top ten in two. At the time of writing this he sits at +2200 and will receive two units on my behalf. He is on the same side of the bracket as Rahm and could face him in the Round of 8 if both are to get there. I’m not too concerned about that as placing two in the top eight would go a long way in DFS scoring. His biggest competition in the round-robin grouping would be Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Kurt Kitayama (17.) The duo is joined by Adrian Meronk (45) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (60.) Finau is a great all-around statistical golfer and therefore could fare well in his first three matchups to advance to the round of 16.
My choice in this price range is 2021 Masters’ Champion Hideki Matsuyama ($8,600.) As I previously mentioned, with this tournament being match play, there are different ways we need to address things. Typically, I would just feature the highest ranking golfers per price range in my model. There are choices in this price range that place higher than Matsuyama in my model but with the way they match up with previously mentioned golfers in this article, it’s not sensical for me to play them. At last, we land on Matsuyama and what a consolation prize he is. He’s currently seventh on Tour in SG: ATG, 18th in scrambling, 21st in par five average scoring, 24th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 29th in sand saves percentage, 49th in birdie or better percentage, 75th in SG: APP and 99th in SG: OTT. His score in our model is a bit hindered by a 149th placement in GIR%. He’s fresh off a fifth place finish at The Players Championship after an impressive final round. He placed T9th at the Farmers Insurance Open on the calendar year as well. Matsuyama has drawn Max Homa (5) as the top 16 OWGR player in his round-robin group. That isn’t the easiest of matchups for sure but hey, it could be worse. He also gets Kevin Kisner (42) and Justin Suh (63.) Matsuyama would avoid all three of the Tour’s “big three” of Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy in route to the Round of Four if he is to advance.
I’ve been really high on Si Woo Kim ($7,500) recently and that continues into this week. He’s currently 15th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 18th in sand saves percentage, 21st in scrambling, 24th in SG: APP, 38th in GIR%, 43rd in SG: OTT, 60th in birdie or better percentage, 72nd in SG: ATG and 131st in par five scoring average. Kim has missed just one cut in seven events on the calendar year. In those same tournaments he has four top 25’s. He also won the Sony Open in Hawaii in mid-January. He’s joined in the first round by Viktor Hovland (8,) Chris Kirk (28) and Matt Kuchar (59.) If Kim is to make it out of the initial round, he would run into Scheffler in the Round of 8. Until then he would get the winner of the Collin Morikawa (9,) Jason Day (32,) Adam Svensson (44) and Victor Perez (51.) I like his chances of not only getting out of the round-robin first round and if that is the case, getting to the Round of 8. He too is at +6500 to win at the time of writing this and will get a donation of one unit on my behalf.
This price range is very hard this week with pretty much the top 64 golfers in the World in attendance. With that being said, I’m leaning towards Ben Griffin ($6,500) here. Not only does he match up well statistically with the Austin Country Club, but is at a very fair price that will allow for lineup flexibility. He’s currently ninth on Tour in SG: ATG, 22nd in both SG: PUTT Bermuda and scrambling, 26th in sand saves percentage, 32nd in birdie or better percentage, 78th in SG: OTT, 97th in par five scoring average, 99th in SG: APP and 112th in GIR%. Griffin has made four consecutive cuts heading into this event and has made seven-of-eight cuts on the calendar year. In that same time span he has gone T12th at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He has a very fair first round drawing of Tyrell Hatton (14,) Russell Henley (31) & Lucas Herbert (46.) If he were to go on a run, he wouldn’t encounter any of our other picks until the semi-finals. With any choice in this price range, getting out of the first round would be a big victory and that is what we are hoping Griffin can do.