THEY say the cream always comes to the top and it did last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational which was won by Rory McIlroy.
My selection Justin Rose along with Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods were all contesting on the Sunday – as was Rickie Fowler until he unexplicably double bogeyed the 71st and 72nd holes. Looks like all the top guys are finding their A game coming into the Masters.
The Pete Dye-designed Austin Country Club Course is the setting for this week’s Dell Technologies Match Play, where four of the world’s top 15 have decided to give it a miss.
Brooks Koepka (wrist injury), Rose, Fowler and Stenson will miss out but it’s still a strong field. Good match play credentials and form going into this week are going to be important.
The course is laid out with the front nine on higher ground in the Texas hills followed by a lowlands nine along the Lake Austin shoreline. The Pete Dye-designed track isn't long at just over 7000 yards and has four reachable par fives and a drivable par four.
The format is 16 groups of four to be played over the first three days. The winners of each group move on to the knockout stage with two rounds being played on the Saturday and semi-finals and finals on the Sunday.
- Course; Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas: 7108 yards: Par 71.
One man who really stands out for me this week is Patrick Reed. When you see his stats in the Ryder Cup match play golf looks like a format he enjoys. He was Team USA’s top points scorer in the last two Ryder Cups.
In his section he has Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel who haven’t been setting the heather alight this year, in fact Schwartzel hasn’t managed a top 10 globally since the middle of last year.
Reed already has a WGC title in his locker (Doral 2014) and looks to have returned to form with a second at the Valspar followed up with a seventh at Bay Hill last week. You can never say Reed is short of confidence and with his last two outings showing an improvement he is looking good for Austin.
The one man who could put him under pressure is Jordan Spieth. But Spieth hasn’t got into the rhythm with his putting and that could be a problem for him. If Reed gets through his section he faces the winner of the group involving Alex Noren, Tony Finau and Thomas Pieters. Can see him going all the way this week.
Last year’s losing finalist Jon Rahm is my second selection. Against Dustin Johnson last year he quickly found himself five down but slowly clawed his way back with birdie after birdie to take the final to the last hole.
In the earlier rounds Rahm hadn’t put a foot wrong and it was only at the beginning of the final he looked vulnerable. To come back from that early setback and play the golf he played shows the guy’s character.
I like the way he attacks holes, he’s very like DJ in that respect, and that could be beneficial this week. Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Chez Reavie and Keegan Bradley are in his section with the Thai probably being his main obstacle.
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