GOLF guru Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) gives us his expert opinion on this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play action from Texas.
WGC-Dell Match Play | Wednesday-Sunday | Sky Sports
When you analyse results, as I do every Monday, and work out how and why you should have picked the winner, there is normally a clear stat or viewpoint that seems obvious after the event.
After an easy Jason Day win, one of the top three players in the world don’t forget, that analysis is taken that little bit more seriously.
This next bit may seem a bit negative, but it really isn’t. The wonder of sport and sports betting is that sometimes, results are just not possible to predict.
Day went into the Arnold Palmer Invitational with zero form. He wasn’t even a consideration in the first 20 names I came up with. What that means in relation to golf betting is that, often, a bet with the heart is every bit as valid as one with the head.
That comes into focus when an event like this comes along, the WGC-Dell Match Play. Match Play really could not be any more different to the traditional Stroke Play events that we watch every week – you can go round in 77, your opponent in 71 and it’s still possible you win the match.
Match Play is very much a format where its not just one round but 18 mini rounds. It is why aggression generally gets rewarded. Think Ian Poulter – why does he have such an amazing record in this side of the game?
Poulter is aggressive on every hole. If he cards a seven on the par-4, it matters not because he can win the next three. It is also what stops him in the traditional form of the game – you can’t fire at pins on a Sunday and win. Poults cant do anything but fire at pins.
Anyhow, the Austin Country Club hosts this year’s renewal. A par-71 of an extremely short 7,073 yards, this is a traditional Pete Dye design and, like other Dye courses such as Sawgrass, there are traps everywhere.
Greens will be firm, fast and well protected. Expect extremely windy conditions on the first two days too and that may well play a part in selections – it certainly has for me.
The tournament format has remained the same. Sixteen seeded players will each be allocated into one of 16 groups of four. The winner of each group will go forward to the knockout stages, eventually leaving us with two players for Sunday's final.
This is not an event where course form enters the equation or even tournament form to any great extent. Although the tournament has been held at many different courses over the years, the winners tend to be priced between 20/1 and 35/1 – the exception last year was Rory McIlroy winning after starting 11/1 favourite.
On to the picks and I have four names for you – two from each side of the draw. I think it’s probably obvious by now that these are all ‘gut feel' picks. No chapter and verse on each name this week but all four have what appears to be reasonable draws and will handle conditions well.
My headline section is Rory (12/1 Ladbrokes). I was incredibly confident about his chances at Bay Hill and his second and fourth rounds were amongst the best of the week.
A closing 64 gave McIlroy a 23rd place finish and was incredibly eye catching. I knew our winning chances were cooked when he opened with a double bogey on Thursday but there were bits and pieces of encouragement and Rory will certainly have the aggression I am looking for.
Danny Willett (35/1 Bet365) looks like he could be a Ryder Cup fixture for years to come. Possibly even taking that Poulter role of cheerleader and team bulldog.
Willett will put up a fight, for sure. In a group made up of Brooks Koepka, Billy Horschel and South African Jaco van Zyl, he has every chance of making the knockout stages.
Rickie Fowler (16/1 Bet365) has been a player I have been touting for a Major win all year. If he is going to contend at Augusta in three weeks time, then I want to see some form here. He could not have a much easier group and once you get through the first stage, anything is possible.
Finally, I’m picking out a long shot. Kiradech Aphibarnrat (125/1 Skybet) looks like he is in a very winnable group with the flaky Dustin Johnson, completely out-of-form Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb.
Get through that group and in Aphibarnrat you have a 125/1 shot three matches from the final. The Thai has ‘a lovely touch for a big man'. Great each-way value.
WGC-Dell Match Play – Rory McIlroy to win (12/1 Ladbrokes)
WGC-Dell Match Play – Rickie Fowler to win (16/1 each-way Bet365)
WGC-Dell Match Play – Danny Willett to win (35/1 each-way Bet365)
WGC-Dell Match Play – Kiradech Aphibarnrat to win (125/1 each-way Skybet)
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