Welcome to one of my favorite weeks of the season, a week that takes a step away from the typical 72 hole stroke play format and moves over to match-play. Ian Poulter has often referred to match-play as “the purest form of golf” and I couldn’t agree with him more. There are no clustered leaderboards, there are no six-shot Sunday leads, and there is not true cut-line. This is 1 on 1 golf, you against him, where you are simply trying to score better than your opponent on every hole. Short game mistakes get magnified, and quite often the man who can roll in more putts emerges victorious. Due to the unique format, I will not be providing a typical ranking list, but will instead be picking my winner for all 16 groups. Let’s get this thing going.
Group 1: Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Chez Reavie
My Pick: Not picking against DJ against these three with how he’s playing right now.
Group 2: Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, Eddie Pepperell, Emiliano Grillo
My Pick: All 4 players in this group will battle, but give me JR in a playoff.
Group 3: Brooks Koepka, Alex Noren, Haotong Li, Tom Lewis
My Pick: Brooks rolls to the Sweet 16 here.
Group 4: Rory McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Justin Harding, Luke List
My Pick: In my first upset, give me Matty Fitz to move on.
Group 5: Justin Thomas, Keegan Bradley, Matt Wallace, Lucas Bjerregaard
My Pick: JT. Easily.
Group 6: Bryson DeChambeau, Marc Leishman, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Russell Knox
My Pick: Leish takes out the scientist, as well as the pride of Thailand to take this group home.
Group 7: Francesco Molinari, Webb Simpson, Thorbjorn Olesen, Satoshi Kodaira
My Pick: Francesco Molinari. Simply don’t see the other three challenging.
Group 8: Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Si-Woo Kim
My Pick: Rahmbo rolls this group and makes a deep run in the knockout stage as well.
Group 9: Xander Schauffele, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood
My Pick: Xander is simply too tough, especially in this format.
Group 10: Paul Casey, Cameron Smith, Charles Howell III, Abraham Ancer
My Pick: Cameron Smith gets back on track this week and takes this group.
Group 11: Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley, Byeong Hun-An
My Pick: Always ride Sweet Lou in Match Play.
Group 12: Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk
My Pick: Phil Mickelson. Lefty over Captain Furyk in a playoff in this group.
Group 13: Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Brandt Snedeker, Aaron Wise
My Pick: Tiger Woods. Tiger is eager to prove he can still do it in the Match Play format.
Group 14: Tony Finau, Ian Poulter, Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell
My Pick: Kevin Kisner. Kiz finds magic at ACC once again and comes out of this group.
Group 15: Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Billy Horschel, Kevin Na
My Pick: Jordan Spieth. No title defense for Bubba this year, Jordan is here on a mission and he will survive this group.
Group 16: Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Andrew Putnam
My Pick: One of my upsets for the week. Give me Shane Lowry in a playoff over PReed.
Enjoy the purity of mano y mano golf, bask in the duals between heavyweights, and hope that your brackets stay intact. Cheers folks. This is March.