Fantasy Forecast: Winners and losers from WGC-Dell Match Play
Monday, March 28, 2016
Australian Jason Day defeated South African Louis Oosthuizen 5 & 4 to win the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas. Day's victory was his second in this event and second in a row after winning last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello defeated 2015 champion Rory McIlroy 3 & 2 to claim third place in his first Match Play event.
Key Sunday moments:
Day's first order of business on double-header Sunday was to take care of the 2015 champ and he did so after a very quiet start. He had problems finding fairways and greens but his trusty short game and white-hot putter kept him in the match. So did McIlroy's ice-cold putter that wouldn't let him put any pressure on the Australian. Day took the lead at the turn and never trailed.
The final against Oosthuizen won't be labeled a classic by any means but the boring efficiency of bomb it, find it and make the putt is highly effective when making birdies and saving pars from everywhere. Day only needed 14 holes to thrash the 2010 Open Champion and win his second WGC-Dell Match Play title in three years.
Key moments of the week:
He tried to throw his back out in his opening match against Graeme McDowell but still found a way to win 3 & 2. He went and had treatment, fully warmed up on Thursday and thrashed Thongchai Jaidee 5 & 3. The irony of the week? Paul Casey was the one who WD during the last match of the group play against Day in an essentially meaningless match. Day said that he was coming back to play, he was going to finish the tournament and not WD. His fantasy owners are sure glad he stuck to his word!
Jason Day played 7 matches this week and saw the 18th hole exactly once. And he was hurt.
His length is usually an advantage everywhere but his sharp short game and smooth putter should garner more attention. He's second on Tour in strokes-gained: putting and he makes a ton of birdies.
That's a pretty solid recipe for match play!
Past history at Match Play:
- Winner in 2014, third in 2013, T-9 in 2011.
Well, he's 28, in his prime and:
- Won six of his last 13 starts on Tour.
- Eight wins are the most on Tour since the 2013-14 season.
- BUYER BEWARE: No player ranked No. 1 in the world has not won the Masters since Woods in 2002.
With this win:
- Collects $1.620 million.
- Earns 550 FedExCup points.
- Moves to No. 1 in the OWGR.
Trends and stats
- Picks up win No. 9 on Tour.
- Becomes only the third player to win multiple Match Play titles (Woods (3), Ogilvy (2)).
- Joins the club of multiple WGC champions (now 11 total).
- Joins Adam Scott as the only multiple winner on Tour this year.
- Joins Scott in winning back-to-back starts
- Joins Woods (2013) and David Duval (1999) as entering the Masters off consecutive wins.
- Woods is the only player to defend his title (2003-04) as McIlroy's putter ran out of gas on Sunday.
- ACC will be the host through 2019.
- Small, undulating greens.
- Windy Texas spring weather affected most matches.
- Big hitters flourished as they occupied six of the final eight places.
- Zach Johnson played great until he ran into McIlroy in the Sweet 16.
- Jordan Spieth's course knowledge couldn't overcome his ball-striking.
Top 16 Finishers
and what we learned from them this week
Louis Oosthuizen (2nd): Scorching form continues heading into Augusta where he's been in the mix in the last few years. Superb ball-striking and confidence in the new pencil-grip putter grip is translating. His win in Perth is now backed with T-14 at WGC-Cadillac Championship, T-7 at Valspar and second this week. Loves this event as he was a quarterfinalist for the third consecutive year on three different tracks.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (3rd): Off the radar to lazy gamers, the Spaniard has been en fuego in 2016 with four top 14s in five starts. A pair of runner-up finishes in the desert forced him into this week and a big finish would get him into the Masters. Beating McIlroy 3 & 2 in the third place match after knocking out Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Kisner in group play checked that box in a big way.
Rory McIlroy (4th): Held his nerve in taking out Kevin Na in a playoff to win his group, McIlroy looked primed to defend his title after knocking out the scalding hot Zach Johnson in the round of 16 and Chris Kirk in the final eight. His left-hand low putting stroke abandoned him on Sunday as his sharp iron play went unrewarded. Multiple chances to knock Day back in the semis went down the drain as he couldn't convert multiple makeable birdies. Not sure what the mindset for a consolation match was, obviously $130K isn't going to get his attention, but his ball-striking is on point for Augusta. His putting can get better.
Dustin Johnson (T-5): Overpowered the course and kept grinding even after losing his opening match to Robert Streb. Held off Kiradech Aphibarnrat in a playoff to advance from group play before torching Patrick Reed 3 & 2. King Louis put him to the sword in the quarters but this was DJ's best WGC-Match Play finish. There are hardly any "bad" weeks to line him up but his history at this event hardly inspired.
Ryan Moore (T-5): One of the two light knockers to make the quarters, Moore used his precision into and on the greens to cause bother. Won his final two group matches over Sergio Garcia and Westwood to advance. Guess his 81-73 finish last week didn't bother his match play game one bit. His 4 & 3 washing of rookie Patton Kizzire was the biggest margin of victory in the quarters and ties his best finish in this event. Lovely sleeper for Augusta as this was his third top 10 in his last four starts.
Chris Kirk (T-5): Looks like he's over his issues from a broken arm last summer and the adjustment period of his new PXG sticks. Fantasy owners have exhaled the last two weeks as his T-5 backs up his T-12 at Bay Hill. Kirk has improved in this format as well as he's improved his finishing position each of the last two years on two different tracks. Showed his chops by defeating Branden Grace in group play and in a sudden-death playoff to win the group. Beat Bill Haas in the 16 but caught McIlroy one day too early.
Brooks Koepka (T-5): Won a very solid group even though he lost his final match to Danny Willet. Another of the bombers to make the quarters, he had to knock out the savvy Matt Kuchar on the way before the Australian Steamroller took him out 3 & 2. Bettered his maiden T-17 from last year at Harding Park and picks up his third top 10 in six tries in 2016 on Tour.
Jordan Spieth (T-9): Played and practiced here as an undergrad at Texas but was hooked by King Louis in the quarters. His advantage is knowing and reading greens but two-putt pars aren't nearly as stressful as getting up-and-down all day. Spieth, like Zach Johnson, rolled through his group but his ball-striking and wedges made for an easy 4 & 2 win for the South African. He's in action again at Shell Houston before defending at Augusta so it won't be for a lack of reps.
Patrick Reed (T-9): More proof that this isn't the Ryder or Presidents Cup. It's different so learn and remember that. Reed rolled up his group but ran into a player who can make birdies for fun and isn't bothered by much of anything. Back-to-back top 10s makes it four from eight starts in 2016. #OnSchedule.
Byeong-Hun An (T-9): Beat Scott Piercy in a playoff to win the group which included big favorite Rickie Fowler. Could only get half against Fowler in the final group match as he had a nervy finish. Forced to WD through his Sweet 16 match against RCB with a neck problem after 11 holes so be careful assessing him at Augusta in two weeks.
Patton Kizzire (T-9): Tied with Ben An above as the best first-time finishers in the field this week. Probably my best group winner, No. 63 of 64 in the field, from my preview, Kizzire halved with Bubba Watson on Day 1, J.B. Holmes on Day 2 and beat Emiliano Grillo on Day 3 to advance with two points. Hardly a surprise, for me, that the best putter, by a mile, in this group won. Ryan Moore's nous took care of him in the Sweet 16 but an excellent debut in a field and event of this class. That's four top 10s in 12 starts for the rookie.
Zach Johnson (T-9): Here's why form and function also needs a bit of luck. Johnson was tabbed a favorite by multiple big names including Tom Kite during the live selection show and by PGATOUR.com's Rob Bolton. Johnson's group play beatings included 4 & 3 over Marcus Fraser, 8 & 6 over two-time major champion Martin Kaymer and 4 & 3 over 2015 WGC-BI winner Shane Lowry. What luck? Just bad luck as McIlroy was his draw in the knockout round. He lost two holes on the back nine in that match to par but fought to his final shot as he holed a 20-footer for birdie on the last after McIlroy staked his second. Unlucky.
Bill Haas (T-9): Defeated Adam Scott in a match where he had to produce a half or a win to win the group before falling to Chris Kirk in the knockout stage. I joke about Haas parring courses to death all the time but I'm #JokingNotJoking and now you see why. Very solid bounce back after not holding up the 54-hole lead at Valspar last time out (solo second).
Matt Kuchar (T-9): Add two more wins and a half to his stunning record in this event as he clipped Justin Rose for group honors. His T-34 last year was his only finish outside the top 10 in his last six in this event.
Brandt Snedeker (T-9): 66 to close at API should have alleviated some fears but his group victory this week should suggest his rib problem is gone. For now. No shame in being bulldozed by Day in the Sweet 16; he was hardly the only one this week.
how my pre-tournament favorites (projected group winners) performed this week
Jordan Spieth (1): See above.
Paul Casey (2): The Englishman, for the second year in a row, fell ill and couldn't live up to expectations. Last year it was food poisoning that caused him to be at less than his best vs. McIlroy. This year the stomach flu sapped his energy and killed his chances. That's unlucky two years in a row at two different venues.
Rory McIlroy (3): See above.
Patton Kizzire (4): See above.
Rickie Fowler (5): Once I read on PGATOUR.COM that he was the bracket favorite by the general public, I knew I was a dead-man picking. Couldn't beat Scott Piercy, Byeong-hun An or Jason Dufner after finishing third in 2014 and making the Sweet 16 last year. My record in WGC events for OAD and winners is dire recently. I blame me.
Bill Haas (6): See above.
Justin Rose (7): Couldn't knock out specialist Kuchar in a winner-take-all group finale. This was time No. 11 in match play and he's made the quarterfinals once. That's an applicable trend.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (8): Thought he would be overlooked after his T-6 last week at API and nearly was. Fell to DJ in a playoff to determine the group winner so just missed advancing. Super, super putter.
Daniel Berger (9): Lost to Reed by one hole. Was one down to Mickelson on the final hole before almost breaking his hand hitting his club against granite boulders, forcing him to WD from the match and the tournament. Unlucky but don't hit it there! Hardly out of his depth in his first attempt. Watch that injury even he interests you at Augusta.
Billy Horschel (10): Finished last in his group and never better than T-17 in three tries. Hasn't put two good weeks in a row together since last June but once he breaks, be ready to ride.
Chris Kirk (11): See above.
Hideki Matsuyama (12): Lost to RCB in his first match and that was the difference as RCB didn't lose in group play. Steady as he goes and no mention of any lingering hip flexor strains. On board, fully committed.
Marc Leishman (13): Right church, wrong pew as Moore went on to win the group over Garcia, Westwood and Leishman. Wrong upset. Never sure what motivates Garcia but his history in this event wasn't convincing enough to blindly write him in.
Shane Lowry (14): Faded Zach Johnson based as he had only made the quarters once in 11 tries (2006). Lowry didn't win a match. Speaking of matches, I threw one to start this dumpster fire...
Charley Hoffman (15): Loved his T-17, T-11 in his two events leading into the week more than a dodgy rib and a guy who won his last time out. Avoided the doughnut with a final day win vs. Danny Lee 4 & 2. Another lovely sleeper at Augusta in two weeks.
Louis Oosthuizen (16): See above.
Tomorrow I'll have my preview for the Shell Houston Open on newsstands around mid-afternoon on the East Coast.
Wednesday I'll have all my picks for specific fantasy formats and the results of last week's selections.
Check @MikeGlasscott, @GolfweekMag or @GolfweekFantasy for more details.
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