WGC Match Play - Winner

Austin Country Club provides the backdrop once again for the Match Play and the track has produced plenty of drama down the last few years. Pete Dye courses tend to have a lot of danger and this is no different. However, it hasn't been easy to narrow down contenders here down the years with an eclectic mix making the final stages.

Kevin Kisner has made two of the last three finals and it can be said his game is fairly suited to the dangers that lurk around Austin Country Club. On the other hand, he was beaten in the 2018 final by Bubba Watson, someone who doesn't possess the guile of Kisner to weave his way through this course.

Dustin Johnson and Jason Day add their names to a bunch of big hitters alongside beaten 2017 finalist Jon Rahm who have made the final stages here. Horschel last year was more in the mould of the Kisner and Kuchar, so we can presume that any type of game can win this week.

Past records are something not to be relied upon and it's important to keep stakes relatively small this week as predicting the outcome is a lot more volatile than the 72 hole event. Fatigue plays a part, as does the draw which can open up if a few seeds are dumped out early. 16 group winners will head through to the knockouts over the weekend in what will be a very long week for those who make the final 2 matches. 

Joaquin Niemann at 33/1 (Eight Places)

Being a Presidents Cup year I believe it is no coincidence we have seen an increase in performance from the Internationals. This season we have wins from Im, Matsuyama (twice), Herbert, Smith (twice) and Niemann. With a few guaranteed their place in the team and a handful outside looking to impress I think it's prudent to have one or two of these Internationals on your staking plan this week.

My preference is for Joaquin Niemann who has put together a very impressive season to date and can slay another high quality field like he did at Riviera. His tee to green game has been in excellent shape all year and I think that's what will give him an advantage over the rest. Kevin Na is the second member of his group and he has been in poor form for a while now. Henley has been playing decent golf and may prove the biggest threat to him but I'd be surprised if he doesn't make it out of this group.

Hovland and Zalatoris may fight out the bottom group but either one of them defeated in the other two matches could throw the group wide open. Niemann could capitalise on this side of the draw and his form suggests he is more than capable of going all the way.

1pt each-way J.Niemann 33/1 (1/5 8)

Joaquin Niemann - 1pt e/w @ 33/1

WGC Match Play - Winner

Brian Harman at 45/1 (Eight Places)

Brian Harman is another worth noting this week being in a group alongside Webb Simpson. Simpson has only played three events this year and remains woefully out of form. Watson, of course, has won this but remains inconsistent for the most part and this could be a straight fight between Harman and Ancer. Ancer of course impressed at the last Presidents Cup going unbeaten before falling to Tiger Woods in the singles. His game is suited to this track but he is yet to figure past the groups.

In 2018 Harman defeated McIlroy 5&3 on way to winning the group and last year he swept aside Matsuyama when getting to the final eight before succumbing to Matt Kuchar. Overall, Harman plays well here and with two top five finishes in his last six starts he remains in very good nick. Could play Morikawa if getting through the group but he won't have it all his own way up against Kokrak and Sergio. 

1pt each-way B.Harman 45/1  (1/5 8)

Brian Harman - 1pt e/w @ 45/1

WGC Match Play - Winner

Thomas Pieters at 100/1 (Eight Places)

Finally, I'll have a pop at Thomas Pieters. The Belgian hasn't put his best foot forward since heading to the States a month or so ago but must be considered from a group that is wide open. Horschel may be last year's winner but he arrives here off a withdrawal at the Players. It looked like a sinus infection but we're not sure on that one. It was a long week in Ponte Vedra but he had made the cut and a withdrawal would not have been an easy decision to make.

Alongside Hoge and Min Woo Lee this group is one of more difficult to predict. Pieters' missed cut at Sawgrass was largely down to a poor putter, which often plagues his game. However, it is worth remembering that he was the top Euro point-scorer at Hazeltine in 2016 and won his singles match v JB Holmes.

One of his goals of course will be to make that Ryder Cup team again and he may just have a very good chance this time. He has won twice in his last eight events and 100/1 for someone who has achieved that in the volatile situation of Match Play looks extremely generous to me. Certainly worth chancing.

1pt each-way T.Pieters 100/1 (1/5 8)

Thomas Pieters - 1pt e/w @ 100/1