The group stages of the WGC Dell Matchplay conclude on Friday with the final set of matches taking place on a day where we will see the field whittled down from 64 to just 16 at the Austin Country Club as the second WGC event of the season heads towards the business end of the tournament.
We have a mixture of dead rubbers and some which are effectively a straight knockout clash among the 32 matches that will take place on Friday. With ties in the groups needing a play-off to determine the group winner we are set for a dramatic day.
It was another day where the likes of the defending champion Kevin Kisner, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay and Ian Poulter kept up their 100% record for the week on Thursday and then big names like Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau got their campaigns back on track with wins to cancel out the losses of Wednesday. Others not so fortunate and who are already out of the competition with a game to play include Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Tony Finau.
It was a perfect day for us betting wise on Thursday with Brian Harman edging out Hideki Matsuyama in a high quality affair and then Paul Casey proved way too good for Talor Gooch to bring both match bets in for the day. Ian Poulter put himself in brilliant position for us to have one outright bet in the knockout stages and he could yet be joined by Max Homa and Paul Casey although the latter needs a lot of help to make it through.
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While there are some high profile dead rubbers on Friday there are also matches which are straight knockout games. They see Jon Rahm taking on fellow Zurich Classic winner Ryan Palmer while the big match of the day sees Matt Kuchar taking on the defending champion Kevin Kisner in a repeat of the 2019 final. The winners of those both go straight through. Other notable matches where the winner is likely to progress include Bryson DeChambeau vs Tommy Fleetwood and Xander Schauffele vs Scottie Scheffler. Two matches grab my attention from a betting point of view.
Mackenzie Hughes vs Talor Gooch
Match tees off at 16.21 GMT
The first of the matches I am interested in from a betting point of view is the one in Group 9 between the current leader Mackenzie Hughes and a man who is going home after this match in the form of Talor Gooch.
I was in two minds about betting this because in essence I want Hughes to lose to give my outright bet Paul Casey a chance of making it through but even if Hughes were to lose Casey would need to beat Webb Simpson and then come through a play-off so I think I can let that one go primarily because I don’t see Hughes losing this match. Hughes has been the best player in this group and it has been down to starting fast in both of his matches. Against Casey in the opener he was four under for the first six holes and he was two under for that stretch against Webb Simpson on Thursday. This is a course where getting in front early can pay dividends. Gooch has been around level par for those holes and has then gone on to struggle in the middle third of the round when the pressure has been applied. Gooch might have a slight length advantage here but the iron play and short game of Hughes balances that out and as long as Hughes maintains his intensity even though he only needs a half here, I think he’ll win this match.
Brendon Todd vs Erik van Rooyen
Match tees off at 18.33 GMT
The second match which attracts me from a betting point of view comes in Group 14 where everyone is all level on one point each going into the last set of matches so there is all to play for. The one I like is the Brendon Todd vs Erik van Rooyen match.
Van Rooyen was beaten out of sight by Daniel Berger in the opening round where he made just one birdie and was three or four over the card for the 14 holes that he played. He improved massively on that on Thursday to post six birdies but he was still only two under after a couple of bogeys and a double bogey. Todd has gone a similar way. He only made one birdie in the first round and was one over in a tight defeat to Harris English but they both said that playing a good friend was something they found difficult. Against Daniel Berger on Thursday he posted five birdies and was three under for the round and I expect something similar here. I think his consistent approach, wonderful wedge play and solid putting can get the better of the South African who can be special but equally as erratic.
Back M.Hughes to beat T.Gooch for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral
Back B.Todd to beat E.van Rooyen for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with BetVictor
Back him here: