Dan Box
By Dan Box

After a forced hiatus last year due to COVID-19, the snappily-named World Golf Championships - Dell Technologies Match Play is back for 2021 and, as one of the only non-stroke play formats you'll see on your TV until the Ryder Cup comes around later in the year, it's definitely going to be worth a watch.

2021 WGC Match Play Preview

Image Credit - WGC Dell Match Play Twitter

It's been a fantastic start to 2021 when it comes to professional golf. Already this year, the list of winners include Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas, and the big events just keep on coming.

Last Year

As mentioned earlier, the 2020 edition was cancelled so instead we'll switch back to 2019 where the event was won by Kevin Kisner, getting immediate revenge for the thrashing he had received at the hands of Bubba Watson in 2018.

Kisner beat Matt Kuchar 3&2 in the final, having taken down Louis Oosthuizen and the in-form Francesco Molinari in the quarter and semi finals.

The Course

Austin Country Club in Texas plays host for the fifth time this week, and it blends an intriguing mix of hilly terrain, windy conditions and plenty of scoring opportunities - perfect for match play golf.

2021 WGC Match Play Preview

Image Credit - WGC Dell Match Play Twitter

Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson were the first three winners of this event when it moved to it's current location, which led everyone to believe that the secret to success was length off the tee.

2021 WGC Match Play Preview

Image Credit - WGC Dell Match Play Twitter

However, Kisner's success over the last two iterations of the event, combined with the fact that the other finalist in 2019 was Matt Kuchar, suggests that being a good match play golfer is perhaps even more important.

2021 WGC Match Play Preview

Image Credit - WGC Dell Match Play Twitter

In fact, the course tips out at just over 7,100 yards which is short, by modern standards, and there are three par 5s to go with a couple of driveable par 4 meaning that any one in the field has the chance to turn the tide very quickly.

The Field

Rory McIlroy had suggested that he may skip this week's event in order to work on his game leading up to The Masters. The fact that he is in the field this week perhaps means he has decided that a week of golf where he plays against another golfers, rather than against the course, is just what he needs.

2021 WGC Match Play Preview

Image Credit: Global Golf Post

In all, 64 of the world's top 69 players, including each of the world's top 10 are in the field this week. 22 of the 64 players are first-time participants, due to the fact that last year's event was cancelled. Two years is a long time in professional golf!

Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson are understandably among the favourites, whilst Jon Rahm has both the game and the personality to really suit match play golf and is still looking for his first victory of the season.

Keeping track of all of the different groups and potential matchups as we move towards the knockout rounds is not always easy, but this graphic from the PGA Tour is a good place to start...

Golfalot Tips

  • Jordan Spieth @ 28/1

He seems to be getting closer to that elusive victory with every passing week, and match play could be the perfect format as it means that the odd wayward drive (to which Spieth is partial) only costs you one hole, rather than three or four shots.

Spieth is a Texas native so knows the course well, and has plenty of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup appearances to his name. If he can get through a relatively friendly group, he could go all the way.

  • Paul Casey @ 25/1

Casey has the kind of tidy, reliable game that lends itself well to match play as he gives nothing away, meaning you'll have to play well and make lots of birdies if you want to beat him.

He's also been one of the most consistent golfers in the world over the past few months, with a win and five top-15 finishes in his last six events. He'll have to get past Webb Simpson in the group, which is certainly not a given, but he's a two time runner up in this event so others will be hoping to avoid him when it gets to the knockout rounds.

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