The 2015 WGC Cadillac Match Play Championship is here. Taking place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, CA, it’s the second World Golf Championship of the year and features 64 of the world’s best golfers.
The format this year has been completely revamped. Round-robin play begins on Wednesday, and continues until Friday. At the conclusion of three matches, the player with the best win-loss record from each of the 16 groups advances to play traditional, single-elimination match play bracket with rounds of 16, Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals on the weekend.
Here’s a look at each of the 16 pools, and our predictions on who will advance through the weekend.
1. Groups One+Two
Group one has plenty of star power, with Rory McIlroy and two FedEx Cup champions. Horschel has been wildly inconsistent this year, and Jason Dufner really hasn’t done much since winning the 2013 PGA Championship.
Advancing: Rory McIlroy
Group Two has the hottest golfer on the planet right now, Masters Champion Jordan Spieth. Lee Westwood is the most experience of this group, with 17 top 10 finishes in major championships, but a lackluster 14-21 record at the WGC and in Ryder Cup singles. Westwood is the only real challenger to Spieth, who should advance fairly easily.
Advancing: Jordan Spieth
2. Groups Three+Four
Stenson didn’t play well at Augusta but had four consecutive top five finishes prior to Augusta. The World No. 3 will be tough to beat. Stenson leads the Tour in strokes gained-putting and tee-to-green. Bill Haas has become a really solid player and won the Humana Challenge.
Advancing: Henrik Stenson
UPSET ALERT! After all chalk, group four looks like the first opportunity for the favorite, Bubba Watson to get knocked off. Watson gets a rematch with Louis Oosthuizen, who he faced in the 2012 Masters. We’re going with Keegan Bradley, who loves singles competition, despite a 1-6 record. Keegan has made 11 of 12 cuts this year and has three top 10 finishes.
Advancing: Keegan Bradley
3. Groups Five+Six
Martin Kaymer has missed three consecutive cuts, and Jim Furyk just won the RBC Heritage two weeks ago. In a matchup of two past U.S. Open winners, we’re going with Kaymer to right the ship and advance.
Advancing: Martin Kaymer
Justin Rose might be playing the best golf of his career. The world No. 6 played sensational golf at the Masters, and just won the Zurich Classic in record setting fashion.
Advancing: Justin Rose
4. Groups Seven+Eight
Jason Day is the defending champion and played really well in New Orleans last week. He was up and down at Augusta but has been mostly solid this year. Give Charley Hoffman credit for playing better than anyone could have expected at the Masters. Grace has only played in five PGA Tour events this year, and has made the cut four times, missing at Augusta.
Advancing: Jason Day
It’s hard picking chalk all the time, but Dustin Johnson is just playing so darn good this year. DJ won the Cadillac Championship at Doral. He played great at Augusta finishing in 6th. Tempted here to take Dubuisson, but he’s just not playing very well right now, and has either missed the cut or withdrawn in three of his last five events.
Advancing: Dustin Johnson
5. Groups Nine+Ten
Paul Casey is really flying under the radar this year. He’s now ranked No. 37 in the world, and has four top 10 finishes this year. He’s also 16-9 at the WGC, a two-time runner-up and a former Volvo World Match Play champion. Adam Scott is obviously his stiffest competition. This will be one of the closest of the groups.
Advancing: Paul Casey
Might as well call this the battle of the Europeans for group ten. We’re going with chalk on this one.
Advancing: Sergio Garcia
6. Groups Eleven+Twelve
Jimmy Walker is the top seed, but it’s really hard to ignore Ian Poulter’s success in singles competition. 2010 champion, 22-12 at the WGC, 4-0-1 in Ryder Cup singles. Pick the track record.
Advancing: Ian Poulter
We’re going with another upset in group 12. Russell Henley has made the cut 11 of 12 times this season and has three top ten finishes. Brooks Koepka has fallen off somewhat due to an injury, and J.B. Holmes is frustratingly inconsistent. His last four starts: 2, missed cut, 1st, missed cut.
Advancing: Russell Henley
7. Groups Thirteen+Fourteen
Rickie Fowler is off to a really rough start in 2015, and really hasn’t been in contention for any tournaments. The same could be said for McDowell too, however. We’ll go with Rickie.
Advancing: Rickie Fowler
Kuchar and Mahan are really the only two you can consider picking here. Mahan won this event in 2012 and then lost the next year to Kuchar in a playoff. We’ll go with Hunter in a tossup.
Advancing: Hunter Mahan
8. Groups Fifteen+Sixteen
Patrick Reed has plenty of moxie. He won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions back in January and has four top 10 finishes total this season. Danny Willett has played just four times on tour this year and the other two don’t look like they can compete with Reed.
Advancing: Patrick Reed
Matsuyama is best of this bunch tee to green, but Kevin Na is another guy who’s consistent play has been flying under the radar this year. Na has four top 10 finishes this year, and while Matsuyama can hit the ball a mile, we don’t trust the 23-year-old in this spot. He did card a 66 on Masters Sunday, and his only PGA Tour win came agains Na at the 2014 Memorial Tournament.
Advancing: Kevin Na
Saturday Potential Round of 16 Matches:
(1) Rory McIlroy vs. (16) Kevin Na*
(2) Jordan Spieth vs. (15) Patrick Reed
(3) Henrik Stenson vs. (14) Hunter Mahan*
(4) Keegan Bradley* vs. (13) Rickie Fowler
(5) Martin Kaymer* vs. (12) Russell Henley*
(6) Justin Rose vs. (11) Ian Poulter*
(7) Jason Day vs. (10) Sergio Garcia
(8) Dustin Johnson vs. (9) Paul Casey*
*: Indicates Lower Seed Advanced Out of Pool Play
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