Sobel: WGC-Match Play Insights, Projections for All 96 Round Robin Matches
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson
- The 2019 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event tees off on Wednesday with 32 round robin matches.
- There will be 96 such matches in total before the event moves to a bracket format, with the winner of each group advancing to the Round of 16.
- Jason Sobel analyzes each round-robin match and gives out the Action Network's projections.
Not long after I tweeted some results from our Action Network Match Play Projections, there was a predictable response from an “old-school” guy who insisted that analytics couldn’t determine the outcome of golf matches.
I told him that he was right, that the model doesn’t offer any 100% winner guarantees, just like the being a favorite in the betting market doesn’t guarantee a victory.
Upsets, after all, do happen, but they’re called upsets for a reason; they were the least likely of the two outcomes.
Instead, our projections offer the probability of specific results in each instance. Even in the most lopsided circumstance, I told him — and very patiently, at least for the first few minutes — that the underdog is projected to win once every four times they’d play. And yes, that one time could indeed happen this week.
I don’t think the concept is too difficult. In fact, I think it’s really fun for an event like this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play Championship.
So let’s get right to all 96 round-robin matches — six in each group — that will take place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Note: These percentages are meant to simulate the betting market, as any percentage can be converted into a moneyline (Example: We’d project a player with a 66.7% chance of winning to be a -200 favorite in that specific matchup … -200 simply means you’d have to wager $200 to profit $100.)
Dustin Johnson (74.2%) vs. Chez Reavie (25.8%)
Nobody is a bigger favorite in any match than DJ is here.
Branden Grace (40.1%) vs. Hideki Matsuyama (59.9%)
If they fuel each other, could be a potential Prez Cup pairing.
Dustin Johnson (71.9%) vs. Branden Grace (28.1%)
According to our model, DJ will be projected to win any match this week.
Chez Reavie (37.3%) vs. Hideki Matsuyama (62.7%)
Would probably be a smaller upset than Reavie’s win over Rahm last year.
Dustin Johnson (63.2%) vs. Hideki Matsuyama (36.8%)
Heavyweight slugfest, though probably without the pre-match trash-talk.
Chez Reavie (47.0%) vs. Branden Grace (53.0%)
Since the event moved to Austin, Grace owns a tidy 4-4-1 record.
Justin Rose (64.7%) vs. Emiliano Grillo (35.3%)
Rose hasn’t played this event since 2016, when Kuchar knocked him out.
Eddie Pepperell (42.6%) vs. Gary Woodland (57.4%)
Two guys moving up in the world, ranked about as high as they’ve ever been.
Justin Rose (63.9%) vs. Eddie Pepperell (36.1%)
Those 27.8 percentage points might be for Rose’s experience in the format.
Emiliano Grillo (41.6%) vs. Gary Woodland (58.4%)
Two years ago, Woodland won this matchup, then WD’d the next day.
Justin Rose (56.7%) vs. Gary Woodland (43.3%)
Fun match here between the ball-striker and the basher.
Emiliano Grillo (49.0%) vs. Eddie Pepperell (51.0%)
The projections don’t get much closer than this. Should be a fun match to watch.
Brooks Koepka (67.1%) vs. Tom Lewis (32.9%)
After missing this event due to injury last year, Koepka could be an intimidating foe.
Haotong Li (48.4%) vs. Alex Noren (51.6%)
Tough to explain Noren’s year, which has been stuck in reverse so far.
Brooks Koepka (62.6%) vs. Haotong Li (37.4%)
If Noren continues to struggle, this match could determine who advances.
Tom Lewis (43.5%) vs. Alex Noren (56.5%)
Lewis’ last three results: MC-65-63. This could be a pillow fight.
Brooks Koepka (61.1%) vs. Alex Noren (38.9%)
Two years ago, Noren won this match against Koepka, 3 and 1.
Tom Lewis (45.1%) vs. Haotong Li (54.9%)
Li had a nice little start to the year going before MCs in his last two starts.
Rory McIlroy (66.7%) vs. Luke List (33.3%)
The projections boldly proclaim that McIlroy owns a 2-to-1 chance here.
Justin Harding (43.3%) vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick (56.7%)
They weren’t at big events, but Harding owns five wins in the past 10 months.