Sobel’s Favorite WGC-Match Play Bets: Can Francesco Molinari Keep Momentum on Sunday?
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Francesco Molinari walks off of the 13th green during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Club & Lodge.
- While some of the bigger names are out, the semifinals of the WGC-Match Play are set.
- Jason Sobel makes predictions on the two matchups: Francesco Molinari (-180) vs. Kevin Kisner (+150) and Matt Kuchar (-150) vs. Lucas Bjerregaard (+130).
After a frenzied build-up to Saturday at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship that lived up the hype, the Final Four — or “semifinals” as the PGA Tour blandly refers to it — was largely received by the masses with a collective yawn.
So much for the hype.
This is the inherent problem with this format. Back when the tournament was a single-elimination event, with half the field headed home Wednesday night, the drama took on inverted-pyramid proportions; unlike every other tourney during the year, it progressively became less exciting as the week continued.
That issue was (sort of) addressed by extending the opening matches to a round-robin format, though the tourney lost plenty of its charm and still didn’t solve the problem of being too insular on the final day.
But let’s not get it wrong: This is less about quantity than quality. There’s no doubt the anticipation for Saturday’s matches was so great because Tiger Woods was squaring off with Rory McIlroy, just like there’s no doubt the apathy toward Sunday’s matches is apparent because those drawing cards and others have already left town.
What we’re left with is a Final Four — sorry, semifinals — consisting of a tremendous ball-striker in Francesco Molinari, a gritty grinder in Kevin Kisner, a veteran match-play competitor in Matt Kuchar and an up-and-comer taking a meteoric leap before our eyes in Lucas Bjerregaard.
OK, so they might not be single-named superstars, but it’s still going to be a fun day of golf. And really, it’s not like the “exciting” players were going to zip line their way to the first tee, drive the green, then take their jetpacks down to the ball. It’s still golf — and it still should be a pretty solid watch.
Let’s break down the two matches to start the morning.
Francesco Molinari (-180) vs. Kevin Kisner (+150)
From turning pro in 2004 through this time last year, Molinari owned four victories on the PGA and European tours combined. Not bad, right? Well, since then, he’s going for a fifth title on Sunday, one where he’ll need to keep things rolling against last year’s runner-up.