WGC-Cadillac Match Play Preview
Here’s a look at the groups for the round-robin play of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, which begins Wednesday at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Group 1: Rory McIlroy, Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner. Well holy crap, there’s a way to to put together a quartet: The No. 1 player in the world, the defending FedEx Cup champion, a 7-time PGA winner and the fourth seed won a Major two years ago. The competition might be just the thing for Dufner to get out of his divorce slump, but you have to go with McIlroy as the favorite.
Group 2: Jordan Spieth, Lee Westwood ,Matt Every, Mikko Ilonen. Ilonen sneaks in thanks to Phil Mickelson’s withdrawal and is rewarded with a first-day match against the hottest player on earth. Spieth is the heavy favorite here.
Group 3: Henrik Stenson, Bill Haas, Brendon Todd, John Senden. Stenson hasn’t been great lately, particularly on American soil, and Haas has the pedigree, a win this year, and pressure victories in the past. If there’s going to be a round-robin “upset” of a top 5 player, this is the one to watch, although Stenson does have a title at this venue in 2007.
Group 4: Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Keegan Bradley, Miguel Angel Jimenez. Team personality! Watson could learn a thing or two from Jimenez about earning the like and respect of your fellow pros despite having a big personality. Oosthuizen has been on a long downslide since peaking at No. 4 in the world two years ago, Bradley is the wild card, a Major winner himself, but winless since 2012. Watson is the safe pick.
Group 5: Jim Furyk, Martin Kaymer, Thongchai Jaidee, George Coetzee. Fury’s recent slump-buster makes him as viable as anyone in the field. Kaymer has been in a deep freeze since his US Open win a year ago, while Jaidee usually excels in heavier fields like this. Pick Furyk, but watch out for Jaidee.
Group 6: Justin Rose, Ryan Palmer, Anirban Lahiri ,Marc Leishman. Hard to pick against the guy who just set the course record in New Orleans, but Palmer has played well of late. Take a flyer on the Lone Star Stater
Group 7: Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Branden Grace, Charley Hoffman. A lot of nice names here, but Day has been the third-hottest golfer this year behind Spieth and Dustin Johnson, not to mention being the defending champion.
Group 8: Dustin Johnson, Victor Dubuisson, Charl Schwartzel, Matt Jones. Speaking of, Johnson has a great draw to get out of the first round.
Group 9: Adam Scott, Chris Kirk, Paul Casey, Francesco Molinari. Former No. 1 Scott has almost slid his way out of the Top 10. Casey rarely plays on American soil, and Kirk hasn’t won since 2012. Molinari is an appealing long shot here, having won the WGC-HSBC in 2010.
Group 10: Sergio Garcia, Jamie Donaldson, Bernd Wiesberger, Tommy Fleetwood. Where have you gone, Sergio Garcia? The No. 10 player in the world hasn’t had a Top 10 finish since the Bridgestone last August. The rest of this group hasn’t done much lately either, and is the only Group to not be at least 50% American.
Group 11: Jimmy Walker, Ian Poulter, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland. Poulter’s support should be interesting to follow after his Twitter war with fans lats week. Walker got off to another fast start this year, and has become a consistent threat, despite no really huge wins to date.
Group 12: J.B. Holmes, Brooks Koepka, Russell Henley, Marc Warren. Not the most glamorous group of names, but perhaps the deepest other than the first four. The 26-year-old Henley’s last two finishes are fourth in Houston and 21st at The Masters; Warren has two Top 10 finishes in his last five starts.
Group 13: Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry, Harris English. Swagger factor should be high with Fowler and McDowell in the mix. The American has been very pedestrian after his landmark 2014. McDowell is off to a slow start, having only played two tournaments this year as he came back slow from a back injury. Really, this is anyone’s group to win.
Group 14: Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Stephen Gallacher, Ben Martin. Nothing like two former champions of this tournament in the same group, much less two of the last three champions. Gallacher has never won on American soil, while Martin had his first win to start this season.
Group 15: Patrick Reed, Ryan Moore, Danny Willett, Andy Sullivan. Two rising Brits wind up in the same bracket with Reed, a young Texas riser having to live in Spieth’s lengthy shadow right now. Go with the young guy.
Group 16: Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Na, Joost Luiten, Alexander Levy. The most diverse group of the tournament – Japan, France, The Netherlands all represented, along with Na, who has dual citizenship between the US and South Korea. Hard to see a favorite here, so we’ll choose Luiten, he’s got the best hair.