WGC-Dell Match Play Recap

03-27-17

Dustin Johnson is the hottest player on this planet and probably in the galaxy.

His win on Sunday makes it three from his last three.

Heavenly that.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson defeated Jon Rahm in the championship match 1 up to claim the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas. Bill Haas knocked off Hideto Tanihara in the consolation match to secure third place.

 

 

Key Moment(s):

  • He played 112 holes and never trailed. #WireToWire.
  • His closest matches were the final two as he won both 1-up.
  • His putter and wedges had been the previous “weak” part of his game but his short game was stellar all week.

 

 

 

Past history at Match Play:

  • He finished T-5 here last year in the first edition of the “pod” system.
  • His T-9 in the knockout format was his only Sweet 16 appearance from seven tries in that format.

 

 

Fantasy Forecast:

 

  • He has now won all four WGC events.
  • He’s won the last three events he’s played on Tour. The last to do this was Rory McIlroy in 2014 (The Open, WGC-BI and PGA Championship).
  • He’s automatic in any every format in any event he enters.
  • He’ll defend his U.S. Open title at Erin Hills plus he always plays well at Memphis the week before.
  • He’s also defending at Firestone so that makes it three wins in the last four WGC events. #Baller.

 

 

With this win:

 

  • Collects $1,660,000.
  • 550 FEC points.
  • Maintains his No. 1 OWGR ranking.
  • Now ranked first in the FedExCup standings.

 

 

Match Play Hindsight:

Trends and stats from the week for next week and next year

 

  • Defending champ Jason Day WD after six holes to reveal that his mother was battling cancer.
  • Francesco Molinari WD with a wrist issue.
  • Gary Woodland WD with personal issues.
  • He joins Woods and McIlroy as the only No. 1 seeds to win.
  • Only Woods has won back-to-back WGC events before this week.
  • Johnson will look to match Woods’ streak of three in a row when he defends at WGC-BI this summer.
  • Johnson now has five WGC wins, most of anybody not named Woods (18).
  • The last American to win was Matt Kuchar in 2013.
  • Austin was dry and the greens were perfect.
  • Weather was avoided by moving up tee times on Friday but the only other issue was gusting winds, normal this time of year in Texas.

 

The consensus is if you can handle the wind and make birdies then Austin Country Club is for you. There are risk-reward holes and shots as Pete Dye keeps everyone on their toes. Nobody from the 2016 final four made a run this year so it appears the format and course make this a wide-open event.

 

 

Scorecard: 

A look inside the rest of the group winners who advanced.

 

Jon Rahm (2nd): This is a recording. If his win at Torrey, T-5 at Pebble or T-3 in his first WGC event at Mexico City didn’t influence you, I’m not sure what other evidence will be necessary. Fast greens, slow greens, green beans, you name it, he’s handling it. I don’t think Tim Mickelson would have quit at ASU to become his agent because he “might” be good! He’s played two WGC events and has it the podium each time.

 

Bill Haas (3rd): Similarly to Rahm, I had Haas also getting knocked off in the quarterfinals but instead he powered into the final four. He must enjoy Austin as well as he’s posted his best two finishes in seven tries on the Pete Dye track. In his previous four events in the Arizona desert he never made it to the last 16 so a change in venue didn’t bother him. Haas is a super steady player and makes plenty of pars which rarely hurt in this format. He had to defeat K.T. Kim in a playoff to advance out of the group stage.

 

Hideto Tanihara (4th): For the second year in a row a non-Tour member made the final four in this event. Last year, Rafael Cabrera-Bello took third on the back of international hot play and this year Tanihara used the same recipe. His putter was the club that made all of the difference this week and he adds this nice check to his T-32 in Mexico City. He’s off to the Masters for the first time in two weeks as a result of his play this week.

.

Alex Noren (T-5): The Swede hadn’t produced any inspiring performances recently and had only played this event prior in 2010 and 2013. With Molinari WD, the Swede took care of Wiesberger and Jaidee and claimed the group. Although he won the first three holes of the back nine against the eventual champion to square the match, DJ switched back and won three of the next four to close him out.

 

Ross Fisher (T-5): He’s found a liking to the two newest sites on the WGC calendar. He found the podium with a T-3 in Mexico City and his first trip to ACC found him in the quarterfinals. In his last 11 starts worldwide, five have resulted in T-6 or better.  Noted.

 

Soren Kjeldsen (T-5): Anytime you knock off Rory McIlroy in any event you deserve credit. When you do it after never winning a match in this event, it makes it even more impressive. He entered the week No. 62 and took home the McIlroy scalp before Jon Rahm brought him back to reality, 7 & 5. His low ball flight and very solid putting didn’t hurt this week.

 

Phil Mickelson (T-5): His first trip to the quarters since 2004 should be taken with a grain of salt. He routinely skipped this even in the Arizona desert because of spring breaks, rest, etc. He finished second in his group last year and looked very solid this year before Bill Haas knocked him out. His group wasn’t exactly one of death but I’m more interested in his back-to-back top 10’s against tough fields.

 

Zach Johnson (T-9): Outlasted match play expert Matt Kuchar and sizzling hot Tommy Fleetwood in the group play before running into DJ in the knockout stage. His short game can only handle so much pressure but he should take this as a positive moving to Augusta.

 

Brooks Koepka (T-9): Welcome back, Koepka! It’s not as catch as “Kotter” but the point stands. The big hitting American has been lost since the calendar turned over with nothing inside of the top 40. To see him beat Reed, Kisner and Dufner suggests he’s found something and that is music for season-long investors. His birdie barraged ended to World No. 11 Alex Noren in the round of 16.

 

Paul Casey (T-9): His path to Dustin Johnson took him through No. 54 Hideto Tanihara and No. 47 Ross Fisher. Oh wait, he forgot to beat Tanihara first. After three wins to claim the group pushed his event total to 23 all time, I thought he would give DJ a problem or two. Nope. Casey has been brewing as of late and has a tremendous record at Augusta. #Noticed.

 

Bubba Watson (T-9): He hates the course and hates the event but still found a way to put his colorful ball in the hole to win his group. The magic couldn’t carryover as Euro Ross Fisher smoked him 4 & 3. Fantasy investors for the long term will hope this is exactly the jump-start he needs before Augusta. Gamers will also remind me that he’s usually well on his way by now.

 

Marc Leishman (T-9): Last week’s winner at Bay Hill, the Aussie had to win a three-man-playoff to win his group. His magic ran out on Saturday morning as hot Phil Mickelson knocked him out. It’s back-to-back top 10’s for Leishman and his excellent 2017 is rolling along. He’s an excellent dark horse play for Augusta.

 

Kevin Na (T-9): The fifth time is the charm and maybe it’s not a coincidence that his best two finishes have been on a Pete Dye course. He was T-17 here last year and went one round better this time around before Bill Haas took him out 1-up. Similarly to Koepka, Na entered the week on a “heater” of T-50, MC and MC but found enough gumption to beat Matt Fitzpatrick in a playoff to advance.

 

Charles Howell, III (T-9): In his eight previous starts he found the final 16 once. All it took for him to advance this year was defeating one of the hottest players on the planet, Tyrrell Hatton and last year’s consolation match winner Rafael Cabrera Bello. His prize for winning the group was Jon Rahm. He’ll need to win at SHO to make it back to his hometown for the Masters.

 

William McGirt (T-9): Not a bad run for his first time in the event! He went 3-0 in the group play and that included knocking off a pair of top 20 players Branden Grace and Brandt Snedeker. Soren Kjeldsen pants him 5 & 4 but having a first-timer not named Rahm going this far was impressive.

 

 

“Whatever happened to…?”

 

Rory McIlroy: He lost to Soren Kjeldsen on day one and halved a must-win match with Grillo. Er…

 

Jason Day: He WD after a few holes as his mother was being prepared for cancer surgery. Thoughts and prayers to Jason and his family.

 

Hideki Matsuyama: His second trip to Austin, his second tournament without advancing from his group. His last four events after defending his title at WMPO haven’t found the correct side of T-25.

 

Jordan Spieth: He needed to beat Ryan Moore on the final day of group play to advance because he lost on the opening day to Tanihara. Moore halved with everyone in the group and that sent Spieth packing. He’s burning to get back to Augusta and make new history instead of reliving last year. He gets one more tune up at SHO this week.

 

Justin Thomas: The roller coaster ride is part of the fun. If you say it 1000000000 times it sounds true. Whatever. He went 0-3 last year and 1-2 this time around. Lesson learned.

 

 

Stay Tuned:

Keep up @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more details. Tomorrow, I’ll preview the Shell Houston Open and Wednesday I’ll post my gaming column.

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