Let the games begin
With the sports world’s focus on the NCAA Tournament, golf fans get to have a little March Madness of their own at this week’s WGC - Dell Match Play. The 64-man event is mirrored after the NCAA Tournament but underwent a great change last year, shifting to 16 pods with an A, B, C & D player (based off of world rankings) and a round-robin format. The top player from each pod moves on to the “sweet sixteen” where the event becomes a single elimination match-play championship.
Don’t put too much stock into the player’s seed at this event. Last year, upsets occurred just as frequently as the chalk pick, and 48 of the 96 round-robin matches played were won by a lower-seed.
Last year’s event saw #1 seed Rory McIlroy take home the title over #50 seed Gary Woodland, but the most memorable moment was when Miguel Angel Jimenez and Keegan Bradley almost dropped the gloves in an early round match....
The 2016 Edition
The event will be held in Texas at Austin Country Club, a Pete Dye design and former home to legendary instructor Harvey Penick. One of the fried egg’s members, Glenn Przybylski, played Austin C.C. in the Harvey Penick Invitational (a top-notch amateur event) and had this to say about the course:
“It’s a great course with beautiful views and elevation changes. Should be a great match play course because of a good number of risk and reward holes. The driving areas and greens have the illusion of being small due to the terrain and subtle slopes of the layout. Approach shot placement is critical to success, and being on the wrong side of the hole can make for treacherous chip shots and putts that are sometimes tough to keep on the green.”
Matchups to watch:
Much like the NCAA Tournament, early-round action is must-see TV. Here are a few of the matchups we are looking forward to.
Rickie Fowler vs Jason Dufner: Two fan favorites and friends going head-to-head. Each is in top form, and the friendly rivalry should make for a fun match.
Sergio Garcia vs Lee Westwood: Two European Ryder Cup stalwarts battling it out. American fans are going to have a tough time choosing who to root for.
Patrick Reed vs Matthew Fitzpatrick: Virtually anyone versus the self-absorbed Patrick Reed is interesting, but throw in a budding young European star and you’ve got yourself a good show.
Rory McIlroy vs. Smylie Kaufman: Kaufman won the 2nd start of his rookie season and has been on a tear ever since, most recently finishing T8 at Doral and T12 at Bay Hill. Will the budding star be intimidated by an all-time great McIlroy?
Bubba Watson vs J.B. Holmes: Two long-bombing southern boys, need we say more.
Brooks Koepka vs Danny Willett: A future Ryder Cup showdown? Koepka (USA) and Willett (England) are two of the brightest young stars in the game.
Jordan Spieth vs Justin Thomas: Childhood friends and 2011 NCAA Championship rematch where Spieth was able to defeat Thomas to win the team title.
Hardboiled Picks to Click
While the tour’s elite are grinding it out in 1 on 1 battles, the bottom half of the Tour and Daily Fantasy are in the Caribbean for the Puerto Rico Open.
Stud: Scott Brown
DraftKings Salary: $10,900
It may sound strange calling Scott Brown a good pick at $10,900, but he is in this lower-quality field. Brown has had a quietly successful 2016 with 4 straight top 40s that include two top 10s. He has also had a lot of success in Puerto Rico with 1 win and 2 more top 10s in just 4 starts.
Value: Cameron Smith
DraftKings Salary: $8,700
The 22-year-old Aussie has serious game as evidenced by his t4th at last year’s U.S. Open. He comes to Puerto Rico on a good run, making 3 consecutive cuts and registering an 11th place finish at Pebble. In a weak field, a player of this talent level is tough to pass up.
Long Shot: Rob Oppenheim
DraftKings Salary: $6,000
The Orlando native had a solid homecoming last week, finishing in the top 20 at Bay Hill. Oppenheim has made 3 consecutive cuts, and at $6,000, you aren’t going to find much better.
Countdown to Augusta
Contender: Rory McIlroy
Odds-to-win: 17 to 2
Masters Record: 4th ('15), t8th ('14), t25th ('13), t40th ('12), t15th ('11) t69th ('10), t20th ('09)
Rory’s quest to complete the career grand slam continues at this year’s Masters. After his final-round collapse in 2011, the 28-year-old has struggled to get off to good starts and contend on Sunday in recent years. While McIlroy’s track record isn’t stellar at the Masters, his dominant tee-to-green game and tendency to play a right to left shot off the tee are tailor-made for Augusta.
University of Texas was able to snag the Valspar Collegiate, one of the season’s best tournaments as all 15 teams are ranked within the country’s top 50. On the individual side, LSU’s Zach Wright defeated Texas A&M’s Chandler Phillips in a playoff.
Lee McCoy is at it again. The University of Georgia senior took home the medalist honor at the Linger Longer Invitational. Unfortunately for Georgia, McCoy’s performance wasn’t enough as University of Alabama was able to win the team title by 3 over Georgia and Augusta.
A great variation of the traditional box jump. Instead of facing the box, begin by standing parallel. Rotate while jumping to land on top of the box. The 90° box jump integrates a power and rotational exercise in one.