Promotion Banner

2023 WGC-Dell Match Play Picks: Back Jason Day, Cameron Young To Match Up In Finals

2023 WGC-Dell Match Play Picks: Back Jason Day, Cameron Young To Match Up In Finals article feature image

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Young

For years, many golf fans — dare I even say the majority — have pined for a match play format to a more grandiose event, maybe the PGA Championship or as a season finale to determine the FedEx Cup champion. Or at least, they think they’re pining for that in what can be described as a careful-what-you-wish-for scenario.

After all, the idea sounds exciting until we’re left watching two guys play golf on a Sunday afternoon, especially if they aren’t two of those whom we’d most like to watch in the first place.

The annual WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is, to use a journalistic term, the inverted pyramid of golf tournaments. We start with a strong lede that includes all of the pertinent who, what, when, where, why and how information, then strays toward the other details at it continues to progress.

Or put another way, it’s the only week of the year when Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are better television viewing experiences than Saturday and Sunday.

In any case, we should consider it some combination of irony and ignorance that a format many observers insist they want more frequently will instead conclude its quarter-century run as a mainstay on the PGA Tour schedule following this week’s edition. There are whispers the format could materialize in whatever post-season calendar is eventually dreamed up by the powers-that-be, but as it stands right now, this will be the final time we witness the world’s best players going head-to-head against each other in a non-Ryder/Presidents Cup event.

Despite this — or perhaps because of it, essentially — we could be primed for a few big names reaching the final matches.

For every Dustin Johnson/Jon Rahm championship match that we’ve seen over the years, there’s been a Kevin Sutherland/Scott McCarron; though it’s worth noting that recent Sunday afternoons have largely included interesting players, if not always the most talented, as well as those with the proper internal fortitude to succeed in this format.

The must-have app for bettors

The best betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

None of this is to suggest that winning the Match Play shouldn’t be celebrated as some Darwinistic survival of the fittest. Completing the gauntlet of advancing out of a group and winning four more matches should be considered a war of attrition unattainable in regular, 72-hole stroke-play events.

Last year, Scottie Scheffler won from the overall fifth seed – the fifth time in the last eight editions of this tournament that a player ranked eighth or better claimed the title. That tournament also saw eight of the 16 highest-seeded players — exactly half — advance beyond the group stage into the weekend, a number which almost seems chalky compared with your March Madness brackets.

Without defectors to LIV Golf and with fewer DP World Tour (and other tour) stalwarts to round out the back-end of the groups, the field is thinner than usual, as evidenced by the “top-64” world ranking qualification going all the way to 72nd getting a spot and outside the top-80 earning second alternate status.

Beyond golf’s so-called “Big Three” of Scheffler, Rahm and Rory McIlroy, who have combined for two wins and three runner-up finishes in this one, much of my intrigue lies with players who can be paired up due to similar backstories.

Jason Day and Rickie Fowler are on similar comeback-trail trajectories and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that only having to defeat one other player serves as a less daunting route back to the winner’s circle than in traditional formats.

Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala are two of the game’s best young players without a victory and while Sutherland’s triumph in 2002 remains this event’s lone first-time winner in a true capacity (although established stars Darren Clarke, Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter also claimed their initial PGA Tour titles here), there’s a thought that head-to-head play could help open the impending floodgates.

Billy Horschel and Kevin Kisner are a pair of former champions whose games have taken a recent downturn, but the exact type of aforementioned players with that internal fortitude to thrive here.

And then there’s Jordan Spieth, in a category of his own, those wild peaks and valleys potentially more helpful than harmful in this format.

With all of that in mind, let’s break down the entire field, from all 16 groups to a potential championship final.

Round Robin

Group 1

  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Tom Kim
  • Alex Noren
  • Davis Riley

Tough luck for a couple of up-and-coming stars in Kim and Riley, not to mention Noren, who owns a sneaky-good record at this event, but Scheffler is the No. 1 seed for a reason, as evidenced two weeks ago at The Players.

As if we needed even more reason to pick Scheffler, he’s already shown a propensity for strong title defenses, winning the WM Phoenix Open and finishing T-4 at the API, so last year’s victory here should offer similar vibes for him.

My pick: Scottie Scheffler

Group 16

  • Sungjae Im
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • J.T. Poston
  • Maverick McNealy

Head says Im, heart says Fleetwood – or maybe it’s the other way around, I could be wrong.

It feels like Im is building up to something; if not his first major, then the biggest title of his young career. That said, he’s been underwhelming in his first two starts here, so I’ll go with two-time quarterfinalist Fleetwood instead.

My pick: Tommy Fleetwood

Group 8

  • Viktor Hovland
  • Chris Kirk
  • Si Woo Kim
  • Matt Kuchar

Don’t look now, but the ball-striking stats have been through the roof for Hovland so far this year, while his weakness around the greens hasn’t been nearly as much of a barrier as it was last year.

In Kirk and Kim, he’ll square off against a pair of guys who have already won this year, but that just means they’ve peaked, while Hovland has five top-20s in six starts and still hasn’t.

My pick: Viktor Hovland

Group 9

  • Collin Morikawa
  • Jason Day
  • Adam Svensson
  • Victor Perez

He’s not quite the Day of old, but the former No. 1-ranked player is showing more than a small semblance of his former self, with six straight top-20s to start the year.

I liked Perez, who was fourth here two years ago, as a potential darkhorse before the groups were released, but as mentioned above, this could be the perfect format for Day, who’s won this event twice in the past.

My pick: Jason Day

Group 4

  • Patrick Cantlay
  • Brian Harman
  • K.H. Lee
  • Nick Taylor

He’s a tremendous player who’s firmly on my radar for the Masters in a few weeks, but Cantlay’s inability to advance past the group stage in four previous starts can’t be considered a coincidence.

With that in mind, I’ll default to the player who’s been the best this year, which just so happens to be the lowest-ranked guy in this group. Taylor didn’t take much momentum from his runner-up in Phoenix, but a T-10 last week shows his game is back in solid shape once again.

My pick: Nick Taylor

Group 13

  • Sam Burns
  • Seamus Power
  • Adam Scott
  • Adam Hadwin

Following a rough three-event stretch, Burns looked like the world-class player he’s become, posting a sixth-place finish at the Valspar last week. Now, that could be chalked up to a horse-for-the-course situation, but anyone who hits it as for as him and putts as well as he does should be a tough out in this format.

Quite frankly, the other three don’t interest me too much, though Power might appreciate a reprieve from the Florida Swing, where he’s never fared too well anyway.

My pick: Sam Burns

Group 5

  • Max Homa
  • Hideki Matsuyama
  • Kevin Kisner
  • Justin Suh

I’m not sure there’s a real “Group of Death” in this field, though this could be considered one of ‘em (along with Group 2 and Group 12). I’ve fallen for the Matsuyama head-fake too often over the past year. Every time he appears to be on the verge of success again, he pulls a three-card monty and turns up nothing.

Kisner is traditionally great in this format and Suh is an emerging force, but I’m going with the “safe” play here in Homa. At some point, talent just wins out in these things.

My pick: Max Homa

Group 12

  • Jordan Spieth
  • Shane Lowry
  • Taylor Montgomery
  • Mackenzie Hughes

It’s like some PGA Tour exec said: “What if we took four guys who each have a great touch around the greens and brilliant putting strokes, and put them all in the same group together? Is that something you’d be interested in?”

It’s difficult to pick against Spieth, whose current game is seemingly perfect for this format. The same can be said for Lowry, but I love the idea of going with the rookie here, a guy whose penchant for playing money games should lend itself to success in this format.

My pick: Taylor Montgomery

Group 2

  • Jon Rahm
  • Billy Horschel
  • Keith Mitchell
  • Rickie Fowler

Am I seriously picking against Rahm here? I fully expect this section of the preview to wind up on his rental house refrigerator in Austin. (Assuming the bellyache that knocked him out of The Players is healed enough to even think about looking at the fridge.)

It takes a brawny, confident dude to knock off Rahm in this format, as evidenced by losses in his three previous group stage advancements to Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka. I’m guilty of overrating Mitchell on a regular basis, but I think he’ll be up for this match and ready to pounce. As for Fowler? Almost any other group, man. I really wanted to pick him.

My pick: Keith Mitchell

Group 15

  • Cameron Young
  • Sepp Straka
  • Corey Conners
  • Davis Thompson

Last year, Conners earned a massive payday at this one, defeating Dustin Johnson in the consolation match to finish in sole possession of third place.

It’s been a quiet year, results-wise, for the super sophomore Young, but don’t let that blind you to the fact that he’s gained strokes both off the tee and with his approach shots in his last dozen measured events. If the putter just gets a bit tepid, watch out.

My pick: Cameron Young

Group 7

  • Will Zalatoris
  • Ryan Fox
  • Harris English
  • Andrew Putnam

I don’t know your know-it-all golfing buddy who professes to be a wizard on everything professional golf, but I’m willing to bet that Fox might be the best player he knows almost nothing about.

A hulking Kiwi who should do more intimidating than his fellow players in this group, he’s fresh off finishing 14tgh and 27th at the API and Players, respectively. With question marks surrounding each of the other three, I like the guy making his debut.

My pick: Ryan Fox

Group 10

  • Tony Finau
  • Kurt Kitayama
  • Adrian Meronk
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout

He’s yet to follow up on last year’s three victories, but Finau has played at a consistently high level so far this year, with iron play that’s been through the roof and no result outside the top-25 since November.

The only bad news is that a big week for Big Tone could shorten his odds for the Masters, where he’s already a very intriguing play.

My pick: Tony Finau

Group 3

  • Rory McIlroy
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Denny McCarthy
  • Scott Stallings

Not sure if you’ve heard this before, but McIlroy once showed up to the course about 10 minutes before a tee time with Bradley and still beat him.

This isn’t a Ryder Cup, but McIlroy should be motivated enough, following a mediocre stretch during which he’s gotten passed in the fast lane by Scheffler and Rahm.

My pick: Rory McIlroy

Group 14

  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Russell Henley
  • Lucas Herbert
  • Ben Griffin

Perhaps no player’s fortunes can be prognosticated based on his review of that week’s course than those of Hatton, who crushes it on the few venues he enjoys and spends the weekend brooding on those he doesn’t.

Despite advancing from the group stage for the third time in five tries last year, he called it a “funky golf course” and rejected all notions that he’d played well in those winning matches.

That leaves three choices I don’t love, as this ranks as one of the weaker groups. The play here is Herbert, who’s been admittedly awful lately, but can get hot in a hurry with his flatstick.

My pick: Lucas Herbert

Group 6

  • Xander Schauffele
  • Tom Hoge
  • Aaron Wise
  • Cam Davis

This should be an underrated group to watch, with Schauffele, Wise and Davis each owning plenty of offensive firepower.

Then there’s Hoge, who simply plods his way around the golf course by hitting lasers to five feet all day, which is a pretty nice way to climb leaderboards in stroke-play events and a similar nice way to win some head-to-head matches.

My pick: Tom Hoge

Group 11

  • Matt Fitzpatrick
  • Sahith Theegala
  • Min Woo Lee
  • J.J. Spaun

I’d expect Lee to be a popular pick here, fresh off his title contention while playing in the final pairing at The Players two weeks ago. And for good reason; that driving iron is gonna chase on these fairways.

Even so, I can’t get away from the idea that this is going to be a big week for Theegala, who tends to do everything well and could thrive in a match play situation.

My pick: Sahith Theegala

The must-have app for bettors

The best betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Round of 16

Scottie Scheffler vs. Tommy Fleetwood

Course history shows a huge advantage here for Scheffler, not to mention recent form and overall talent level.

My pick: Scottie Scheffler

Viktor Hovland vs. Jason Day

If this one does happen, expect a back-and-forth, ball-striking fiesta that could go extra holes, with Day potentially outlasting his opponent in the end.

My pick: Jason Day

Nick Taylor vs. Sam Burns

The Cinderella story ends here for Taylor, as Burns starts building some momentum.

My pick: Sam Burns

Max Homa vs. Taylor Montgomery

I love Homa, you love Homa. But we also don’t love chalk and this thing is starting to feel a little too chalky. Give me the guy who loves playing match play to pull off an upset.

My pick: Taylor Montgomery

Keith Mitchell vs. Cameron Young

Armed with a new caddie in Paul Tesori, that new-caddie bump could be a real thing for Young this week.

My pick: Cameron Young

Ryan Fox vs. Tony Finau

If he does indeed advance this far, expect Finau to become a very popular Masters bet, even if those odds do grow shorter.

My pick: Tony Finau

Rory McIlroy vs. Lucas Herbert

As unconfident as I am in Herbert even reaching this point, I’m more confident in the fact that he won’t make it past McIlroy if he does.

My pick: Rory McIlroy

Tom Hoge vs. Sahith Theegala

In what could and should be a close match, Theegala’s short game puts him over the top.

My pick: Sahith Theegala

The ultimate CBB betting cheat code

Best bets for every game

Profitable data-driven system picks

Tail the sharpest bettors in the world


Scottie Scheffler vs. Jason Day

Hey, chalk is meant to be erased. Scheffler can’t win everything, and Day won’t back down if he gets this far.

My pick: Jason Day

Sam Burns vs. Taylor Montgomery

Here’s hoping that Valspar finish was less a course-horse scenario and more a signal that Burns is ready to play his best golf once again.

My pick: Sam Burns

Cameron Young vs. Tony Finau

Two similar styles of play, with big drives and deft wedges struck throughout a match featuring plenty of birdies on both sides.

My pick: Cameron Young

Rory McIlroy vs. Sahith Theegala

After doing just enough to make us think he might finally win that elusive Masters title, McIlroy does just enough to leave a little doubt it could happen.

My pick: Sahith Theegala


Jason Day vs. Sam Burns

The resurgence is upon us, as Day is primed and ready to turn his high-level consistency into a serious title contention.

My pick: Jason Day

Cameron Young vs. Sahith Theegala

Maybe this is more wishful thinking than anything, but it would be great to witness two of the PGA Tour’s most talented second-year players going head-to-head with a championship berth on the line.

My pick: Cameron Young


Jason Day vs. Cameron Young

It’s almost shocking that the man with nine top-three results worldwide in the past year-and-a-half hasn’t yet come out on top, but it’s coming soon. Only having to beat one other player in each match might be the secret formula to finally making that dream come true.

My pick: Cameron Young

Corales Puntacana Championship

Along with the WGC-Match Play comes our second opposite-field event of the year in Puntacana, where Chad Ramey was last year’s champion.

When he’s not berating — and subsequently making up with — his caddie, Matt Wallace (+2500) has been playing some solid golf and is my lone play in this week’s top tier, just barely ahead of Thomas Detry (+2000).

This season hasn’t been nearly as fruitful for Mark Hubbard (+4500) as last season, but don’t be surprised if he borrows a little of his buddy Joel Dahmen’s magic at this one.

One of my favorite values on the board is Kevin Tway (+7500), who is quietly playing some much improved golf this year and is always a threat when the wind is blowing.

I’m so upset that Nate Lashley isn’t in this field, but I’ll begrudgingly pivot to the other opposite-field, resort-course stud in Brice Garnett (+8000), who won this event five years ago.

Trevor Werbylo (+13000) and Richy Werenski (+13000) probably have lockers right next to each other every week and they happen to be right next to each other on the odds board at this one. Werbylo has made the cut in six straight starts, while Werenski has finished top-30 in three of his last five.

And if you want a deep longshot, well, I don’t see anyone beyond 200/1 worth playing, but despite what the stats tell us, I still think Jonathan Byrd (+18000) has some game at the age of 45.

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.