WGC Match Play: March Madness Strikes the Golf World
© Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
If you think this year’s NCAA Tournament has produced upsets, it barely holds a candle to the surprising result’s at this week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Justin Thomas (pictured above) and Sergio Garcia are the only top-10 players in the world rankings left in the event. They’re also the lone top-11 tournament seeds who advanced from pool play to the final 16. Those shown an early exit include Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Tommy Fleetwood.
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Thomas (+400) is the clear favorite after besting Francesco Molinari, Luke List and Patton Kizzire in group play. Garcia is next in line as one of two players at +800 after winning a group that included Xander Schauffele, Dylan Frittelli and Shubhankar Sharma.
Thomas and Garcia would meet in a quarterfinal if both win Saturday morning. With two of the betting favorites likely to face off then, value can be found further down the odds board.
Joining Garcia at that +800 number is Patrick Reed. Reed was able to advance with a victory Friday over Spieth, the No. 4 overall seed, Charl Schwartzel and HaoTong Li.
Alex Noren and Bubba Watson are close behind at +900 as well.
On Saturday and Sunday, the players will compete in two matches per day. The tournament will shrink from 16 competitors to four on Saturday with 18 holes of match play per round. Sunday has two more 18-hole matches to determine a winner.
Overall, the event is pretty wide open. I know we say this a lot with golf, but if this bracket shows anything, it’s that anyone can win an 18-hole match.
Outside of the favorites, Louis Oosthuizen is probably worth a look at +1200. Oosthuizen advanced from Jason Day’s group and now has a favorable draw with Ian Poulter, then the winner of Matt Kuchar/Kevin Kisner.
Of the favorites, Watson at +900 is my lean. I backed him on Wednesday after a dominating opening round, and like Oosthuizen, he has a favorable draw. Watson won’t see Thomas, Noren, Garcia or Reed — the four betting favorites — until the semifinals. Watson is matched up with Brian Harman in the Round of 16, with the winner set to face either Kiradech Aphibarnrat or Charles Howell III.
Top Photo Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
All odds via Bovada on March 23