Niall Lyons has three bets for this week's WGC Matchplay in Austin, Texas.
The group format of the Match Play continues with 16 groups of four battling it out over the next few days in order to try and get the coveted prize on Sunday evening. The 16 group winners contest the 2nd round and knockout commences until we find a winner. Last year the venue moved to Austin, Texas where it is held again. The bombers may well dominate again as the top 4 last year were Day, Oosthuizen, Cabrera-Bello and McIlroy. As we saw in Mexico the big hitters are taking over the game and seem able to overcome any course nowadays. Once again at the weekend we saw the accurate game of Kevin Kisner outfought by the brute force of Marc Leishman. Bar Spieth who can compete with anyone, the big hitters have such a huge advantage these days and they are becoming ever more dominant.
McIlroy heads the field after a superb display of golf over the final two days at Bayhill. It was just a shade too late and he will be hoping that habit doesn't continue towards Augusta as that is what has failed him over the past few years. He has a solid record in this event now and few would put it past him to get far once again but with the volatile nature of this event meaning if you lose one game in the group stages that you're likely to bow out, single figures just isn't worth taking. We'll see far better opportunities at single figures throughout the year than this.
Many will pour over matchplay figures to find a winner here, but truth be told over 18 holes anything can happen from hangovers to bowel problems and even with each at their full potential there's not an awful lot between plenty of these players. I'll be looking at big hitters and those with a favourable draw. With one top ten in the last 6 months and extremely mediocre results, Bubba Watson is a target this week and THOMAS PIETERS is granted this draw on a silver platter. Scott Piercy and Johnny Vegas will not be pushovers but Pieters should definitely have the game to dispatch of Watson with the way he's playing right now. With praise being heaped upon the Belgian I wanted to wait until I saw him in some action Stateside and he has started extremely well. 2nd at Riviera was followed up with a top 5 at the latest WGC in Mexico. Couple that with his hugely impressive debut in the Ryder Cup and I certainly wasn't expecting to see 50/1 across the board and a top price of 55/1 available. Massive price.£10 FREE + Deposit £100 & Play With £200!
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN has not missed a cut in 9 months and is generally playing very consistent golf. With a run all the way to final last year only to come up against an in form Jason Day he could well be primed for another run at a title where he has got the quarters on another two occasions. He seems to like the group format with two quarter final defeats as well as last years runner up spot since the event changed format. He comes up against Matsuyama who would be a formidable opponent as even the shots he mis-hits seem to head for the flag. After a scintillating last few months his form has somewhat dipped with a missed cut Riviera followed by 25th and 45th in Mexico and Bayhill. He certainly doesn't seem to be hitting the heights of the last few months and at the best of times has a very questionable putting stroke. Overall, Louis has the length and the experience to get far in this event once again and I didn't think we'd see such a fancy price about him either.
Finally we'll also have a smaller bet on PATRICK REED. I am unconvinced by his form hence the small bet but should he fancy this matchplay event like he has done some other matchplay down the years then the price could look big come the weekend. My main reason for backing him is he has a favourable group draw. Brooks Koepka is in woeful form and should be easily enough overcome. Bigger hitters dominated last year so I'd be wary of supporting Dufner, and his third opponent Kevin Kisner is reeling after a tough defeat at the weekend. I'm hoping Reed may enjoy a smooth ride into the last 16 in which case we'll be on a shade of value.