Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WGC - Cadillac Match Play - Fantasy Picks

Match play championships are always exciting, and this year the Cadillac Match Play Championships are adding a new format. In doing so, it stands to make this week that much more intriguing.
In the past, each match had players facing elimination, but in this 2015 edition, a player could lose a match, and still go on to win the championship. Golfers have been seeded into 16 groups; beginning Wednesday they will play round robin matches against the others in their pool. The player with the best record will move on to the round of 16. It is there that the traditional elimination matches will begin.

The new format is fantastic for golf fans, for it allows us to watch more golf by keeping players in the event for longer stretches of time. On top of this, as the matches progress through the round robin, there is sure to be many interesting storylines, as matches being played concurrently will have direct effect on others within the group. With 16 groups, there will be numerous scenarios to keep an eye on.

Listed below are the players I predict will make it out of each grouping..

Group 1 (McIlroy, Horschel, Snedeker, Dufner): 
Rory McIlroy - I’m tempted to take Snedeker, but hard to bet against the world number one. Horshel and Dufner having very average seasons.

Group 2 (Spieth, Westwood, Every, Ilonen)
Jordan Spieth - Went head to head with Justin Rose at the Masters in what at moments seemed like match play. Knows how to grind and make the important putts when they matter.

Group 3 (Stenson, Haas, Todd, Senden)
Bill Haas - I see both Haas and Stenson winning their first 2 matches, leading to a winner moves on scenario on Friday. Statistics say Stenson, but my gut says Haas.

Group 4 (Watson, Oosthuizen, Bradley, Jimenez)
Louis Oosthuizen - Coming off T19 and T7 at The Masters and RBC Heritage. Bubba Watson coming off two disappointing finishes at The Masters and two weeks ago in China.

Group 5 (Furyk, Kaymer, Jaidee, Coetzee):
Jim Furyk - Fresh off his win at the RBC Heritage. Played well in this event last year. Despite new venue, look to see him move through into the elimination rounds.

Group 6 (Rose, Palmer, Lahiri, Leishman): 
Justin Rose - Qualified his terrific run at Augusta with a win last week at Zurich Classic. Will be difficult to eliminate.

Group 7 (Day, Z.Johnson, Grace, C.Hoffman): 
Jason Day - Giving the benefit of the doubt to the defending champion. This grouping is a tough one to pick. Zach Johnson, Branden Grace and Charley Hoffman are all players who have been playing well over the past month.

Group 8 (D.Johnson, Dubuisson, Schwartzel, Jones): 
Dustin Johnson - Would be easy to take Dubuisson after his runner-up finish at the event last year, but his mediocre play lately makes it difficult to make this selection. Despite Johnson’s T43 finish in New Orleans last week, and the fact that he has struggled at match play in the past, his play the last two months has been stellar.

Group 9 (Scott, Kirk, Casey, Molinari): 
Paul Casey - Has been grinding it out this season, playing inspired golf, earning his way back into the top 64 in the world, and is therefore returning to this tournament. Look for him to continue to play inspired golf and come out on top in this grouping.

Group 10 (Garcia, Donaldson, Wiersberger, Fleetwood): 
Sergio Garcia - Sergio played well in this event last year, while Donaldson and Wiesberger both exited in first round. Fleetwood is making his debut at the event this week.

Group 11 (Walker, Poulter, Simpson, Woodland): 
Ian Poulter - Another group where a strong case could be made for each one of them. Poulter is a former champion of this event, and is well-known for his inspired play during Ryder Cup matches. He has also been playing fairly well this season.

Group 12 (Holmes, Koepka, Henley, Warren): 
J.B. Holmes - Holmes has won already once this season (Shell Houston Open) and has recently been playing more solid golf than the rest of his grouping (Koepka, Henley, Warren).

Group 13 (Fowler, McDowell, Lowry, English): 
Graeme McDowell - Graeme has made it through to the quarterfinals each of the past two years at this event. A spirited player who loves match play. With Fowler struggling last week, McDowell is looking like a very solid pick.

Group 14 (Kuchar, Mahan, Gallacher, Martin): 
Matt Kuchar - Friday’s match between Mahan and Kuchar will be a rematch of the 2013 championship final. Kuchar is coming off a solo 5th place finish at the RBC Heritage, while Mahan has admittedly been distracted from working on his game as of late. It is for good reason, as he and his wife just welcomed their second child into the world.

Group 15 (Reed, Moore, Willett, Sullivan): 
Ryan Moore - A former US Amateur champion, Moore has had success in match play formats in the past. Playing decent golf this year. I’m predicting an upset here over Patrick Reed.

Group 16 (Matsuyama, Na, Luiten, Levy): 
Hideki Matsuyama - This young Japanese star has been using his beautiful golf swing to post some impressive results this season. I don’t expect him to have too much trouble getting out of this grouping.

Here are my predictions for how the elimination rounds will play out. Below are my choices to move on in each round…..

Round of 16 picks:
  • McIlroy 
  • Casey 
  • Furyk 
  • McDowell 
  • Spieth 
  • Garcia 
  • Rose 
  • Kuchar 

Quarterfinals 
  • Casey 
  • McDowell 
  • Spieth 
  • Rose 

Semi-Finals 
  • Casey 
  • Spieth 

Champion 
  • Spieth

With the way Spieth played at the Masters, and then again the very next week at the RBC Heritage (despite exhaustion) I am predicting another big win from the youngster.

No matter who is crowned champion this Sunday, we can all look forward to a very entertaining week of golf as history is being made with a new format that is sure to excite.


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This article was written by Jonathan Carr (@jonathanwcarr) as part of our weekly #FantasyGolf series. Each week we preview the upcoming PGA Tour event and highlight some of the players we'll be keeping an eye on. As a scratch golfer himself, Jonathan has a keen eye for what it takes to be successful on and off the golf course. His passion for golf is surpassed only by his passion for his faith and his family. Read some of Jonathan's other articles here.