We were treated to an absolutely smashing Sunday finish for the Valspar Championship. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was heartbroken after Jordan Spieth hit his ball in the water to all but take him out of contention. But I've put it past me; hats off to Taylor Moore for getting his first PGA Tour win! This week we turn our attention to the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, at the Austin Country Club.
For those unfamiliar with this tournament, it's a fun, golf version of March Madness. There are 64 golfers divided into 16 groups of four. They play a round-robin head-to-head match play format Wednesday-Friday. The winners of each group will then play in a bracket-style tournament on Saturday and Sunday to determine the winner.
Matchplay is different from the traditional stroke-play format that we watch every week on the Tour. Matchplay is where the golfers compete head-to-head on each hole. After each hole is completed, the golfer with the fewest strokes on that hole wins the hole. If the hole is tied, then it is considered halved. The golfer who has won the most holes wins the match.
This tournament is unique, fun, and at times a little crazy. There will be upsets, and there will be guys making into the round of 16 who were overlooked by most. This week is about watching golf, picking your favorites, and watching them play. I'll use Strokes Gained: Total, SG: Approach, and Birdies or Better gained as the primary data this week.
Bets to win the WGC - Dell Technologies Match Play
Jordan Spieth to win +2500 0.5 units
Ugh! We were so close with Spieth this past weekend. He made some great shots but never really felt like he had that killer instinct. Ultimately it came down to an errant tee shot on 16, which led to him dropping a stroke and falling behind the clubhouse leader. Even in the loss, there was a feeling that Spieth would be back to regularly winning sometime soon.
Spieth doesn't have the easiest group, but he certainly has a solid pathway to the finals. Shane Lowry, Taylor Montgomery, and Mackenzie Hughes are in Spieth's group. Over the last 24 rounds, Spieth has outgained them in strokes per round by a large margin. The biggest issue I see with Spieth would be his putting. However, over the last few weeks, we've seen his clutch putting increase and an improvement in his bounce-back percentage.
Tyrrell Hatton to win +2800 0.5 units
It's time for the world to start betting on Tyrrell Hatton more often. He's a killer who has seemed to work out a few issues that were plaguing him. He's been great off the tee gaining +0.61 strokes per round over the last 36. He's a great ball striker, and he's been able to get hot and go on crazy birdie runs. That will be crucial against the bunch he's grouped with. Outside of Russell Henley, Hatton's match play experience is much greater than the others. Although he has a positive record, Lucas Herbert has only played in three match play rounds. This will be Ben Griffin's first match play event. I love Hatton's price to win the tournament and love his price to win his group.
Tom Hoge +8000 0.25 units
I had to have an underdog in this tournament, or it wouldn't feel like March Madness. We love the stories of the Cinderellas in March. Whether it be the FDUs in college basketball or the Corey Conners in last year's match play tournament, we need to find those compelling stories. This year for me that is Tom Hoge. Last season, Hoge entered this tournament with a bit of momentum. He picked up his first career win at Pebble beach and had a few solid performances on the Florida Swing. However, there is still that pressure of backing up your first Tour win with another in the same season. He failed to do so, but now the pressure is gone. He can play golf and continue to work on his game. Hoge had a great showing at the Players. He finished T3 and was great tee-to-green and on approach. If he can continue that great play, he should be live to win his group. Xander Schauffele is the deserving favorite but has had his own struggles recently. Then he is also grouped with Aaron Wise and Cameron Davis; both are losing strokes per round over their last 24.
Jason Day +4000 0.5 units
I've been betting on Jason Day in the derivative market with frequency this season, and it's paid off tremendously. In the calendar year, he's finished inside the top 20 in all six events. Four of the six were top 10s. He's been great T2G and off the tee, and more importantly, he looks healthy. Day won this event in the first year it was played at Austin Country club. He also has a winnable group. Collin Morikawa is the favorite in the group, but Day is out gaining him +2.29 to +1.83 strokes per round. Day will be back to winning again soon, and why not in a format he's very familiar with.