This week, 64 of the top 70 golfers in the world will make their way to San Francisco and the WGC-Cadillac Match Play. This will mark the first year the Match Play has been held at TPC Harding Park. In order to guarantee the biggest stars will be there for more than one day, a new format has been added as well. Each of the top-16 players in the world were seeded into their own four man pod; with the rest of the group filled randomly. Each group will play a round robin and the top-16 will emerge into one final bracket. Last year, the final four included Jason Day, Victor Dubuisson, Rickie Fowler, and Ernie Els. Day would go on to defeat Dubuisson in 23 holes to pick up his first career World Golf Championship.
My picks for this week:
1) Henrik Stenson (2) – This is going to be one of the tougher tournaments to pick all year, but I am going with Stenson to win it all. Although he only tied for 19th at The Masters, he was coming off a bad case of the flu and got stronger with each round he played. Albeit in a different format, Stenson won this event in 2007. At last year’s Volvo World Match Play Championship, Stenson finished runner-up to Mikko Ilonen.
2) Jason Day (1) – Day is the #7 seed and his initial group includes Zach Johnson, Charley Hoffman, and Branden Grace. Day is your defending champion and has made the final four in back to back years. Day holds a 14-3 career record at the Match Play Championship.
1) Louis Oosthuizen (3) – I don’t really love anyone in Tier B, but Louis is playing the best golf. Oosthuizen has top-20’s in four of his six 2015 starts. Sweet Lou owns a 5-5 career WGC Match Play Record, including finishing in a tie for 5th last year. Oosthuizen’s group includes Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, and Miguel Angel-Jimenez.
2) Marc Leishman (0) – After missing some time due to his wife’s scary illness, Leishman returned to last week’s Zurich Classic. Leishman fired a second round 63, but faded over the weekend and tied for 28th. Leishman lost in 22 holes to Sergio Garcia at last year’s Match Play.
1) Paul Casey (2) – Casey returns to the WGC Match Play for the first time since 2011. Casey finished runner-up in this event in both 2009 and 2010. I also like Casey’s initial draw which includes; a struggling Adam Scott, an up and down Chris Kirk, and an injured Francesco Molinari.
2) Shane Lowry (1) – The last time Lowry competed in the WGC Match Play, he upset Rory McIlroy in the first round and ended up with a 2-1 overall record. Lowry will tee it up against Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, and Harris English in the opening draw.
Other Golfers Considered:
Jordan Spieth (Tier A): Nobody is playing better than Spieth, but I want to save his remaining picks for events that I am more confident in.
Miguel Angel Jimenez (Tier B): Jimenez has a 21-21 career record in all match play events, but I do not like his draw as much as Leishman and Oosthuizen.
Lee Westwood (Tier C): Westwood is coming off a win at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters, but I can only use Lee three more times the rest of the season.