The stars and stripes are big and bright this week as the PGA Tour heads to Austin, TX. Sixty-four of the top players in the world will tackle Austin CC at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play starting on Wednesday morning. We also have the most artificial show on grass with the Hero Indian Open on the European Tour as well as action on the Web.com and LPGA tours.
Can a matchbox? No, but a tin can
This year brings the 21st edition of the WGC Match Play and the fourth at Austin Country Club. The Pete Dye design features many risk/reward shots and is well suited to match play. In a twist on the ordinary match-play format, the tournament begins with pool play Wednesday through Friday. The winner from each pool of four players moves on to a single-elimination match-play bracket on the weekend. Match Play Pools
Last year’s WGC Match Play saw a serious beatdown in the final match as Bubba Watson thumped Kevin Kisner 7&6 to win his second title of the season. The big lefty had already won at Riviera, but his performance at Austin CC proved that his 2017 slump was a thing of the past.
Match Play—An obvious one, but we don’t often get to see match play in modern professional golf. The mano-a-mano element is always compelling and allows many different styles of play to thrive.
The Hot Hands—Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson are the hottest players on the planet right now and look to continue their streaks this week. The pair have combined for three victories and twelve top 10s already this season. It’s only March 27th.
Meow—Tiger makes his return to the WGC Match Play for the first time since 2013. He has never played Austin CC in a tournament but does hold the record for most matches won at this event (33). This tournament will be his last before driving down Magnolia Lane, so expect him to be focused. He’ll face Aaron Wise, Patrick Cantlay, and Brandt Snedeker in pool play. Tiger also made some comments about competition today versus earlier in his career, pointing to equipment as a major factor (minute 10 of this interview).
Reed and Spieth—Two guys who could really use a good week for 400, Alex. In his ongoing search for form, Patrick Reed officially signed David Leadbetter as his coach this week. Spieth has been playing wretched golf of late, his best finish of the year being a T-35 at Torrey Pines. He could use some good mojo in his college town.
“Care-a-bee-in” or “Cah-rib-e-en?”
The other half of the PGA Tour heads to the Dominican Republic this week for the Corales Puntacana Championship. Although the event plays opposite the star-studded WGC Match Play, Dominican fans will have a stellar field to follow. Sungjae Im, Jhonny Vegas, Zach Johnson, The Boy from Bratislava Rory Sabbatini and Dominic Bozzelli are among the names having strong years in 2019. Davis Love III and David Duval will be in attendance, and former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will try to improve on his dead-last finish in Puntacana last year. Tee Times
You can’t be my Hero, baby
The European Tour also has an opposite-field event this week, and it’s a doozy. Players will head to New Delhi for the Hero Indian Open, held at DLF Golf and Country Club. Julian Suri, Bernd Weisberger, and Jorge Campillo are some of the notables in the field, but the real story is the course. Designed by Gary Player, DLF has some of the most outlandish features you’ll see on a golf course. From foam-faced bunkers to outrageous rock outcroppings to large waterfalls, this place truly has it all. If you’ve ever wanted to see what SimGolf looks like in real life, this is your chance. Tee Times
The Web.com Tour heads to Georgia for the Savannah Golf Championship. Tee Times
Aviara Golf Club plays host to the women this week as the Kia Classic gets underway. Tee Times
The University of Texas and Jordan Spieth created a really cool par 3 coursenamed after three-time major winner. The forty-acre course has six holes, the last of which pays homage to Riviera, where Spieth helped the Longhorns win a national title. (h/t Geoff Shackelford)
Apparently the folks at Dell proposed a new format for the match-play tournament. It would have involved stroke play after rounds of match play. It was turned down. Story by Rex Hoggard
The Latest Podcasts and Articles
Shotgun Start: Tiger’s pointed take on equipment, the Euro Tour course so bad it’s good, and more fun with opposite field players’ lists
The Shotgun Start content cup runneth over for this Wednesday edition. We begin with Tiger Woods’ perfect take on how equipment, not talent, has made fields more competitive compared to 10 years ago. We ponder who he might be referring to and who it has hurt most among the elite players. Then we get to the Indian Open at DLF Golf and Country Club, appreciating all the “ambient light,” rock outcroppings, waterfalls, and foam bunker faces that it has to offer. We also run through the tee sheet at the Corales DR event, which takes a lot longer than expected as we marvel at the field make-up of yet another opposite field championship. Eventually, we get to the WGC Match Play, where we make some picks, argue about the current format stinking, and review some of the features of the Austin course. In news, we update on the Reeds, both of them, enlisting David Leadbetter and the nugget that Justine’s swing analysis lined up with the famed instructor. We wrap with a Masters Fact of the Day on a forgotten champion who vehemently argued Augusta National conspired against him in an attempt to prevent him from winning over a favorite son. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify