With his zest for match play and his history of success in mano-a-mano showdowns, Rory McIlroy is at the top of the odds for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship event.
McIlroy, who won the tournament in 2015 and was a semifinalist last season, is the +650 betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The event begins Wednesday at the Austin Country Club.
While the timing of the event and the field of 64 sparks an easy comparison to NCAA basketball’s March Madness, the WGC-Dell Technologies’ format owes a little more to Champions League soccer. Sixteen four-player pods play round-robin matches for three days, with the group winners joining a 16-man single-elimination playdown that will take place on Friday and Saturday.
The winner ends up playing seven matches across five days, including 36 holes on each of the last two days.
McIlroy has yet to win on the PGA Tour this year, although he’s finished seventh or higher in his last three starts. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson (+900) has never won the event, but seems to be dialed in, having finished in the top six in six of his last seven tournaments. Johnson was also fifth at this event last year.
Jordan Spieth is listed at +1000. Spieth is 8-7 in singles match play over his career and was ousted by Louis Oosthuizen in the Round of 16 at last year’s tournament in Hazeltine, Minnesota.
Defending champion Jason Day (+1400) seems to be in a bit of a lull to start the season with only one top-10 finish in five events, and his odds might just be out there to see if it can draw a nibble. Hideki Matsuyama (+2000) does come in as the FedExCup points leader, but he’s been well back in the field in his last three events.
Farther down the Match Play Championship odds, two players with excellent match-play track records are the aforementioned Oosthuizen (+4000) and Thomas Pieters (also +4000).
Oosthuizen is 13-3 at the WGC-Dell Technologies over the last three seasons and likely will have some sway over the outcome. Pieters also had a strong Ryder Cup in 2016 and has drawn into a pod with Scott Piercy, Jhonattan Vegas and Bubba Watson, none of whom is exactly in a groove these days.
Forty-six of the top 50 players in the world rankings are competing in the tournament this week.