The MatchPlay event stirs the emotions of many avid golf fans and while plenty shudder at the thought of this format being used for a WGC, the masses enjoy the drama unfolding as the week continues. As of last year the knockout format has been shelved in place of sixteen groups of four which will eventually be down to two players fighting it out to become champion on Sunday evening. The venue has changed once again and this year we arrive in Texas at the Austin Country Club.

It is interesting to note that this is a Pete Dye layout which will offer us many clues as to who might play well. Sawgrass and Harbour Town are two Dye courses which will no doubt translate some form onto this layout. More than anything else we'll be keeping that in mind. Drooling over Matchplay records is a waste of time in my opinion as anything can happen in an 18 hole match. What is most important, as ever, is seeing who could play well on this layout. If they appear to have a favourable draw also then that will be a bonus.

McIlroy is 10/1 jolly this week and will turn up with confidence following a scintillating final round at Bayhill. I can't help but feel while Harding Park was a suitable fit last year for a bomber like McIlroy (He played Gary Woodland in the final, another bomber), this year's Dye venue is far from ideal for the Holywood lad. I wouldn't be surprised to see him out of the tournament on Friday and hotfoot it to Augusta for a few days practice. If we are putting any logic to this event at all I have to feel the winner will be a more strategic golfer who has shown form on the similar courses.

We'll start with someone who I feel has a very favourable draw in Sergio Garcia. I am not one for backing this lad with much confidence nowadays but this Matchplay event just might be right up his alley at this time. He is plenty experienced enough in the format and if he can get deep into the event then he'll be fired up and ready for it. His group features Lee Westwood. Woefully out of form and seemingly lost at sea in his career right now. Leishman and Moore will provide tougher opponents as both have showed some form of late. Garcia has finished 2nd and 7th in 2 of his last four events and more importantly should love this track. I've had a look and both elements of Sawgrass and Harbour Town are there to see. He has a sparkling record around Sawgrass with a victory and a few runner up spots down the years. He could have won that event 3 or 4 times. This week the wind is expected to blow quite hard over the first couple of days and Sergio with his low ball flight is an ideal candidate to play well in those conditions. Quotes of 40/1 are far too big for the Spaniard in my opinion, and although I don't like staking heavily in this event I feel he is worthy of a solid bet.
Sergio Garcia - 1.5pt e/w @ 40/1Lost -3pt
Next up we have somebody who has shown form on both Harbour Town and Sawgrass. Matt Kuchar has notched a win at both those venues and has shown enough form for me in the past while to be granted a selection in this column. He features in a top heavy group alongside Justin Rose, Anirban Lahiri and Fabian Gomez. 11th at the Valspar and 8th at Riviera is just the form you'd like to see for somebody who prefers the more strategic layouts. The result as Riviera pleased me as plenty of big hitters usually dominate there so a top ten is significant. Kooch is another who has the perfect ball flight for the opening couple of days and his ability to shape shots in the wind should be advantageous. If he gets through the first couple of stages he could meet Mcdowell or Snedeker which would be a tough match but 55/1 for the Kooch is well worth supporting considering his pedigree for the Dye layouts.
Matt Kuchar - 1.25pt e/w @ 55/1Lost -2.5pt
Considering Patrick Reed's penchant for MatchPlay I was a bit surprised to see him chalked up at 40/1 this week. There are reasons behind the price as he faces a tough group, and a tough second round match. Matt Fitzpatrick should hold no problem for Reed but Mickelson and Berger will be more of a grind. If he manages to get out of the group he will likely face either Dusty or Jimmy Walker. If he can get through those two stages I believe the matches will then become easier for him and he could coast to the final. Getting out his group will be the biggest task but if he gets lucky he could have one of the easiest routes to glory. At 40/1 I'm prepared to chance. Of the others, Kevin Kisner, Gmac and Zach Johnson stood out for ones who have form on the Dye courses. I wouldn't be surprised to see any of those deep into the tournament and wouldn't put anyone off backing them.
Patrick Reed - 1pt e/w @ 40/1Lost -2pt