WGC Dell Match Play Preview: Everything You Need to Know About Austin Country Club

Written By John Haslbauer on March 20, 2022 - Last Updated on March 21, 2022
dell match play odds

Just when you thought all your brackets were busted, the PGA TOUR enters the fold with a new March field-of-64, bracket-style tournament. Handicapping 2022 WGC Dell Match Play odds at Austin Country Club must start with understanding the format.

This tournament, not unlike the Ryder Cup, is an entertaining change of pace to watch, albeit a fool’s errand to attempt to over-analyze with SG data and course fit research from a betting perspective.

Click on the odds anywhere in this article to bet now. 

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WGC DELL MATCH PLAY FAVORITES

Dell Match Play Bracket

Check out the Dell Match Play bracket, to cross-reference groups with the best available outright odds.

Tournament Format For Dell Match Play Odds

Every year, WGC Dell Match Play odds feature the top-64 OWGR-ranked players entering the week of competition.

The first round of the bracket features round-robin matchups. There are four golfers in each group, similar to World Cup group play. The groups are randomly assigned; however, the top-16 players will all be in separate groups. This change was introduced in order to avoid premature exits from the world’s best, which was a prevalent issue in the old single-elimination format. 

While that does make the Wednesday through Friday opening rounds a little more interesting, this inverted format has naturally front loaded all the action to the opening rounds, and leaves for a relatively anti-climactic and painstakingly slow final round.

With this event stretching Wednesday through Sunday, we often see a pretty gassed final pairing laboring through on the final day, as evidenced by the 2021 final between Billy Horschel and Scottie Scheffler. It’s definitely the type of tournament you may want to have some action on come Sunday to tolerate the slow pace of following one group around for 18 holes.

Adjusting Betting Strategy For Dell Match Play Odds

The Match Play format welcomes more randomness than a traditional four-day stroke play tournament. It’s the reason Team Europe has won seven of the last ten Ryder Cups with inferior talent, and the reason why last year’s WGC Match Play saw just one top seed (Jon Rahm) and eight of the lowest-seeded players advance from opening group play.

With this randomness in mind, my betting approach for this event is typically to start under-exposed with a handful of longshots at 80-1+ odds and hope that one or two of those players can advance out of group play to the Round of 16. If not, I’ll reload on one live add in the Round of 16.

From a DFS perspective, this is a great week to experiment with wider player pools in GPPs, identifying groups with the highest upside for a lower seed to advance from, and diversifying lineup construction to have equitable exposure across the four quadrants of the bracket. Casual DFS players or users who simply feed a player pool into lineup optimizers may overload a particular quadrant and limit their total scoring upside from the jump, so there’s plenty of opportunity to gain an edge in DFS this week.

It’s difficult to prepare for this event before the 16 groups are determined on Monday morning, but this preview will go over all the need-to-know course-fit profiles and values from each player tier to get you prepared before odds and pricing drop on Monday. Let’s get to it!

THE FIELD AT A GLANCE

If a player withdraws, the next highest OWGR-ranked player is slotted in their place. There are no automatic qualifiers, exemptions, or conditional status needed to qualify. Simply, the best 64 OWGR players available to play will be here.

This year, Cameron Smith, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Harris English and Phil Mickelson were the only five players eligible to play who have opted to skip, whether it be due to rest or injury. In their place, Sebastian Munoz, Keegan Bradley, Robert MacIntyre, Keith Mitchell, and Sepp Straka have slotted in to represent the best 64 players available this week.

Maverick McNealy was the first alternate but is now in the field after Sam Burns withdrew.

Billy Horschel is back to defend his 2021 title this week. He’s joined in this field by Kevin Kisner, Bubba Watson, and Dustin Johnson as past winners at the WGC Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club. Ian Poulter was also a winner at this event in 2010 when it was played at Dove Mountain in Arizona.

The Major Championships Are Coming:
April – The Masters
May – PGA Championship
June – U.S. Open
July – 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews

INTRODUCTION TO AUSTIN COUNTRY CLUB

Like several of Pete Dye’s iconic designs we’ve seen over recent months, Austin Country Club is another positional, strategists’ course. Players will need to manage water, winds, undulations in sloping fairways, and deep fairway pot bunkers. It also features one of the more iconic risk/reward holes on TOUR in the 317-yard Par-4 13th, which depending on the wind direction, can either be a very gettable Eagle opportunity or a surefire way to lose a hole if you come up short in the water.

The WGC Match Play has cycled through a variety of host courses over the last few decades. Since 1999, this event has been played at La Costa Resort,  Metropolitan Golf Club, Dove Mountain, and TPC Harding Park. Since 2016, it seems to have settled on a more permanent home at Austin Country Club.

Match Play is often not guaranteed to make it through all 18 holes so take the totality of Austin Country Club with a grain of salt, but it does feature four Par-4s under 400 yards and an additional four Par-4s in the 450-500 yard range. The greens at Austin Country Club are Bermuda over seeded with Poa, similar to what we saw most recently at courses like TPC Sawgrass and Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead).

Generally speaking, strength in putting is key in Match Play more so than in Stroke Play, as strong putters can put the pressure on their opponents and dictate momentum. We’ve seen elite putters like Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner, and Billy Horschel win at this course in its short history, so it will be worth identifying players who are capable of sinking testy putts in high pressure moments.

Austin Country Club Course Specs

  • Yards: 7,108
  • Par: 71 (4x 3’s / 11x 4’s / 3x 5’s)
  • Greens: Bermuda overseeded with Poa
  • Course Architect: Pete Dye
  • Comp Courses: TPC River Highlands, TPC Sawgrass, Harbour Town, TPC San Antonio, Stadium Course
  • Past Winners: Billy Horschel (’21) Kevin Kisner (’19), Bubba Watson (’18), Dustin Johnson (’17), Jason Day (’16)
  • Hole-by-hole Breakdown:

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Narratives at Austin Country Club

Two prevailing narratives last year were to watch out for the Lefties and Longhorns. There were three left-handed players in the field last year, and all three (Watson, Harmon, MacIntyre) advanced out of group play into the round of 16. There were three Texas Longhorn alumni in the field last year, and all three (Spieth, Scheffler, Frittelli) also advanced to the round of 16.

The angles at Austin Country Club tend to favor a right-to-left ball flight as Bubba Watson showcased in his 2018 victory, and the course sits a stone’s throw from the University of Texas’ Austin campus, so the Longhorns should have some familiarity with the grounds. This year, all but Frittelli return from that group of Lefties and Longhorns.

While not exactly affiliated with Austin, Texas, Will Zalatoris, Tom Hoge, Patrick Reed, and Bryson DeChambeau also have strong Texas ties in this week’s field.

EVENT HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS

Without the aid of any Strokes Gained data or traditional Stroke Play results to go off of, it’s a bit more of a challenge to identify the players with the best course history. You can win a Match Play match without your best stuff if your opponent plays poorly, and you can lose a Match Play match with your best stuff if your opponent decides to bring his A-game that afternoon.

The player in this field with the best aggregate record in Match Play at Austin Country Club is 2019 champion, Kevin Kisner. Since 2016, he has a record of 16-6-1- on these grounds.

In addition to Kisner, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Bubba Watson, Jon Rahm, Ian Poulter, and Jordan Spieth boast the highest winner percentages at this event amongst players with at least 10 matches under their belts.

Course Comps

I’m looking very broadly at Course Comps this week as a loose reference point. While the absence of Strokes Gained data and Stroke Play format create a bit of a mystery in how this course actually compares to TOUR average, we know for certain that it is a Pete Dye Course that shares the characteristics of TPC Sawgrass, TPC River Highlands, Stadium Course, and Harbour Town.

Of these comp courses, I would lean most heavily towards TPC River Highlands, another sub-7,200 Pete Dye track on similar Bermuda + Poa blended greens where Bubba Watson has had success. The Top 5 SG: TOT at TPC River Highlands over the last 24 rounds are Paul Casey, Brian Harman, Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson, and Dustin Johnson.

KEY STATS TO CONSIDER

  • Pete Dye Course History
  • SG: T2G (<7,200 Yard Courses)
  • SG: P – Bermuda
  • Match Play History / Event History
  • Recent Form (SG: TOT, SG: T2G)

This is definitely not the type of week you want to run a model and blindly follow it, but players who excel on comparable course layouts and have a history of success in the Match Play format are a great place to start when narrowing in on a player pool before groups are released.

There are four stat categories that I think are worth sinking into as far as modeling goes.

First and foremost is recent form (SG: T2G L24 rounds). The tiered groups this week will be determined solely by OWGR-ranking, which features a rolling lookback across years. Looking at a shorter window of recent form should be an easy way to identify value this week. The top-10 players in SG: T2G L24 are Luke List, Will Zalatoris, Jon Rahm, Keegan Bradley, Justin Thomas, Sebastian Munoz, Joaquin Niemann, Tom Hoge, Daniel Berger, and Russell Henley.

Next, I’m looking for players who profile well on other positional Pete Dye Courses, as well as courses that play under 7,200 yards. The top-10 Pete Dye Specialists in this field are Paul Casey, Shane Lowry, Justin Thomas, Si Woo Kim, Bryson DeChambeau, Viktor Hovland, Abraham Ancer, Corey Conners, Sergio Garcia, and Will Zalatoris. The top-10 Short Course specialists are Daniel Berger, Justin Thomas, Corey Conners, Paul Casey, Russell Henley, Keegan Bradley, Sam Burns, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and Patrick Cantlay. 

Finally with this being Match Play, I want to put a particular emphasis on putting. The top-10 Bermuda putters heading into this week are Kevin Kisner, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Billy Horschel, Tyrell Hatton, Lucas Herbert, Scottie Scheffler, Marc Leishman, and Matt Fitzpatrick. It’s interesting to note that three of the top-five Bermuda putters have emerged from WGC Dell Match Play odds at Austin Country Club and won.

New for this week, I’m also adding a little manual weight to the model for OWGR ranking and Match Play performance. The top-10 players in this weighted key stat model are Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, Dustin Johnson, Billy Horschel, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, and Daniel Berger.

FINDING VALUE IN EACH TIER

The WGC Dell Match Play divides the field into four groups or tiers based on their OWGR ranking:

  • Tier 1: players ranked 1-16
  • Tier 2: players ranked 17-32
  • Tier 3: players ranked 33-48
  • Tier 4: players ranked 49-64

When groups are randomly drawn on Monday, each group of four for the opening round will feature one player form each tier. For example, no opening group will feature both Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa, just as no opening group will feature Richard Bland and Sepp Straka.

Even still, there’s always a Group of Death, where an elite player is paired in a group with other players who either have great event or Match Play history, or are playing better than their current OWGR ranking would suggest. Last year’s Group of Death was Justin Thomas, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, and Kevin Kisner. There will always be a Group of Death despite the randomized parameters in place.

Looking at the tiered breakouts this week, a sample Group of Death could potentially look like Rahm/Koepka/Scott/Watson or Morikawa/Casey/Garcia/Noren. Using the model system above, I’ve broke out the full list of four Tiers along with OWGR ranking and my Model ranking below for reference.

Tier 1 (1-16)

Player to Watch: Patrick Cantlay

Patty Ice has a game tailor made for Match Play and was a key piece on the USA Ryder Cup team last we saw him, going 3-0-1 in his four matches. He has a well-rounded game and elite history on both Pete Dye and Short course, enough to rank No. 2 overall in my weighted model this week. He’s second only to Justin Thomas in that model, but with a tournament on the line standing over a pressure putt, Cantlay might be the most-feared player in this event.

Tier 2 (17-32)

dell match play odds

Player to Watch: Shane Lowry

Lowry joins Sungjae Im as the only two players in this second tier to model out well enough to be a Tier 1 player. That’s due to a very recent spike in form where he’s jumped to 16th SG: T2G L24 and top-3 SG: T2G on Pete Dye Courses. Lowry doesn’t have the best history at Austin Country Club, but the track does suit his strengths well, and he’s riding some Match Play momentum after a respectable showing at the 2021 Ryder Cup.

Tier 3 (33-48)

Player to Watch: Russell Henley

The last person I’d think of on a course that puts a premium on making putts in a pressure situation is Russell Henley. Be that as it may, he still skyrocketed in my model as a top-12 player this week coming out of the Tier 3 range, and may present a high upside value depending on his draw come Monday. We’ve come to expect Henley to perform well on Short, Pete Dye, Bermuda courses, so it will just come down to mental fortitude with Henley this week.

Tier 4 (49-64)

Player to Watch: Alex Noren

It’s impossible to project pricing tiers and ownership before groups are drawn, but Alex Noren, who ranks 57th in the world, has chalk written all over him if he’s priced amongst the other Tier 4 players this week. Noren is 11-3-0 at Austin Country Club since 2016, one of the best winning percentages of anyone in this field. The course and format suit Noren’s game perfectly, and he’s in excellent form with two top-5 finishes over his last four starts.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2022 WGC DELL MATCH PLAY

The biggest thing to watch out for ahead of this event will be “Selection Monday”, when all 16 First Round groups will be drawn Monday morning. Until then, we can only speculate which players stack up best to advance out of the first round.

While I’ll be actively targeting Cantlay, Lowry, Henley, and Noren in the groups they draw for either betting or DFS purposes, I’ll also be looking to target against groups with weaker players relative to their OWGR rank. Groups that feature Tyrrell Hatton, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, Matthew Wolff, Lee Westwood, Richard Bland, and Takumi Kanaya are where I’ll look to actively target value players, as I expect these to have comparatively less resistance to advance out of for other value players.

Best of luck navigating 2022 WGC Dell Match Play odds!

COMPARE 2022 WGC DELL MATCH PLAY ODDS

As of Sunday, BetMGM is the only legal U.S. sportsbooks to post outright odds. Check back in on Monday for more updates after Group Play is announced and to compare odds across the rest of the sportsbooks. 

John Haslbauer Avatar
Written by
John Haslbauer

John Haslbauer writes about golf betting and advanced golf metrics for TheLines.com. He is a passionate golf fan, golf writer, and (casual) golfer. A graduate at Syracuse University, John works out of Jersey City as a Director of Media Strategy for HBO and HBO Max. He created the website thepgatout.com at the start of 2021 and is active on Twitter (@PGATout). No, he is not a tout. The Twitter handle is a joke. Touts are lame. We hate touts.

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