All you need to know: WGC - World Matchplay
Rory McIlroy can return to world no1 spot this week at the Austin Country Club
The World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play takes place at the Austin Country Club in Texas. Photograph: Stan Badz/Getty Images
The Lowdown: WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay
Purse: €9 million (€1.5m to the winner)
Where: Austin, Texas
The course: The fingerprints of designer Pete Dye are all over Austin Country Club, which is located along Lake Austin (part of the Colorado River). The imposing structure of the Pennybacker Bridge serves as a backdrop to the river holes, with the Par 5 12th hole - of 578 yards - viewed as the signature hole and the drivable Par 4 13th offering a tempting risk-and-reward approach.
The field: The title sponsors couldn’t have computed it any better. Only two of the world’s top-64 eligible players - Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott - have decided the matchplay doesn’t fit with their pre-Masters preparations. Five players (Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas) come into the matchplay with the chance to leave as world number one. The 64 players have been drawn into 16 groups for the initial round-robin matches with the group winners progressing to the elimination stages over the weekend.
Irish in the field: Rory McIlroy, champion in 2015, has been drawn in a Group 4 along with Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Harding and Luke List. McIlroy opens his round-robin round against List (tee-time 6.22pm Irish time); Shane Lowry has been drawn in Group 16 with Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Andrew Putnam. Lowry starts his campaign against Garcia (tee-time 7.39pm Irish time).
McIlroy can return to the world number one spot if he wins, Dustin Johnson fails to make the semi-final stage and Justin Rose finishes outside the top three.
Betting: Rory McIlroy’s hot run of form, coming here on the back of a win at The Players, sees him installed as the 8/1 favourite with world number one Dustin Johnson next in the betting at 11/1 . . . the round-robin format works against outsiders, yet Kevin Kisner (last year’s beaten finalist) is worth a look at 60/1.
On TV: First round coverage on Sky Sports Golf (from 6.00pm, featured groups from 2.15pm).
Group 3: Brooks Koepka, Alex Noren, Haotong Li, Tom Lewis
Group 4: Rory McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Justin Harding, Luke List
Group 6: Bryson DeChambeau, Marc Leishman, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Russell Knox
Group 9: Xander Schauffele, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood
Group 15: Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth,Billy Horschel, Kevin Na
Group 16: Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Andrew Putnam