2023 WGC-Dell Match Play: Max Homa Tops Power Rankings
Pictured: Max Homa. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
I may be turning into one of those older men who shouts from his porch, but WHY ARE WE GETTING RID OF THE MATCH PLAY CONTEST!?
I don’t think there is a better, more captivating event — especially from a gambling perspective.
While the argument may come down to the volatile nature of this event, it is not as if the big names didn’t show up. Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Young, Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns and Jason Day all hung around with a chance to take down the title.
If you haven’t already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There, I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.
1) Max Homa (Must Beat Two of Three Saturday: Mackenzie Hughes, Sam Burns, Patrick Cantlay)
I know this might come as a small shock to rank Homa over all remaining players, but my model has been a big believer all week that Homa’s skillset sets up nicely for Austin Country Club. The American was the only golfer, for me, to rank in the top 15 of all nine categories I attached a weight to this week.
The one problem is three of the seven strongest golfers come in this mini quadrant that meets Saturday. And that is before we even get to the potential Scheffler path that might be looming Sunday morning.
All I can do is power rank it as things stand, but there can only be one left standing between Homa, Cantlay and Burns after we get through Saturday. My money will be on Homa, though the margins are thin.
2) Cameron Young (Must Beat Two of Three Saturday: Billy Horschel, Kurt Kitayama, Andrew Putnam)
There probably isn’t a better draw left in the bracket for a top-end golfer than what Young gets in his quest to capture his first PGA Tour title. I know Horschel is a past champion of this tournament and won’t be an easy out, but I would still prefer a Horschel/Kitayama/Putnam route Saturday than taking on Homa/Cantlay/Burns. Young’s stout profile includes four top-two outputs out of the nine categories.
3) Patrick Cantlay (Must Beat Two of Three Saturday: Sam Burns, Max Homa, Mackenzie Hughes)
Cantlay’s first-place rank in weighted GIR percentage for match play and top grade for birdie or better + bogey avoidance, will make him a wildly tricky out. If we get Homa versus Cantlay Saturday afternoon, it will be fireworks.
4) Scottie Scheffler (Must Beat Two of Three Tomorrow: J.T. Poston, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar)
Scheffler’s draw is relatively clean Saturday. That would be a big boost if we were ranking these golfers for their likelihood of winning, but I am just grabbing the best statistical fits and comparing those totals between the nine categories.
The American has some flat stick woes that could bite him at any moment, which suggests a persistent ball striker can make a real run in taking him down. Will that happen Saturday? Maybe if Day or Kuchar gets hot in the afternoon match.
5) Rory McIlroy (Must Beat Two of Three Saturday: Lucas Herbert, Xander Schauffele, J.J. Spaun)
McIlroy draws the weakest opponent left on my model. However, anything can happen in match play. Herbert will hold an edge with the putter if he can stay close, but there are some massive differences in scoring at all three par ranges that McIlroy will look to take advantage of in the morning.
6) Xander Schauffele (Must Beat Two of Three Saturday: J.J. Spaun, Lucas Herbert, Rory McIlroy)
This pairing against Spaun is not a given. My model loved Spaun’s potential to be one of the dark horse candidates in this field, but the math still gives Schauffele about a -145 chance to advance.
7) Sam Burns (Must Beat Two of Three Saturday: Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, Mackenzie Hughes)
What a brutal draw for Burns. There is always a chance things open up against Hughes if Burns can get through this first pairing against Cantlay, but there are a lot of other parts of this bracket that would have increased Burns’ win potential (literally any different path would have worked).
8) Jason Day (Must Beat Two of Three Saturday: Matt Kuchar, Scottie Scheffler, J.T. Poston)
I don’t know if Day will pull this off, but the path is highly doable for him Saturday, especially if Scheffler slips early.
Day is back and I can say that now without worrying about putting the weight of the world on a back that kept him out of the spotlight for far too long. Whether he wins remains to be seen, but I am betting on Day because I don’t want to miss the party.
9. J.J. Spaun
10. Kurt Kitayama
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Andrew Putnam
13. Billy Horschel
14. J.T. Poston
15. Mackenzie Hughes
16. Lucas Herbert
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