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 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.

Defending champion: Bubba Watson secured his second WGC matchplay title with a runaway 7 and 6 win over Kevin Kisner.

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).

Full bracket:

Group 1: Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Chez Reavie

Group 2: Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, Eddie Pepperell, Emiliano Grillo

Group 3: Brooks Koepka, Alex Noren, Haotong Li, Tom Lewis

Group 4: Rory McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Justin Harding, Luke List

Group 5: Justin Thomas, Keegan Bradley, Matthew Wallace, Lucas Bjerregaard

Group 6: Bryson DeChambeau, Marc Leishman, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Russell Knox

Group 7: Francesco Molinari, Webb Simpson, Thorbjorn Olesen, Satoshi Kodaira

Group 8: Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, JB Holmes, Si Woo Kim

Group 9: Xander Schauffele, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood

Group 10: Paul Casey, Cameron Smith, Charles Howell III, Abraham Ancer

Group 11: Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley, Byeong Hun An

Group 12: Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk

Group 13: Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Brandt Snedeker, Aaron Wise

Group 14: Tony Finau, Ian Poulter, Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell

Group 15: Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth,Billy Horschel, Kevin Na

Group 16: Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Andrew Putnam

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