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Back the putters in knockout rounds at WGC-Dell Match Play

5 Min Read

Draws and Fades

    AUSTIN, Texas – Scheffler. McIlroy. Cantlay. Homa. Day. These are just some of the stellar 16 players who remain in the fight to take out the World Golf Championships–Dell Technologies Match Play.

    The group play is over and now we hit the rapid-fire weekend starting with Saturday’s Round of 16 in the morning followed by the Quarterfinals in the afternoon.

    Now in the spirit of transparency, I picked just seven of the 16 group winners’ pre-tournament and then, with a do-over last night, managed to get just 10! Now it’s time to see where the value lies as we chase a champion.

    For me, when it comes to the crunch in match play the lean has to be toward putting. You have to make the putts that count. After that, I’ll go with the tried-and-true approach metric ahead of the work needed off the tee. Here is how our final 16 have fared. (See all other SG metrics further below).

    Strokes Gained: Putting:

    Sam Burns (+7.573), Lucas Herbert (+6.625), Mackenzie Hughes (+5.097), Xander Schauffele (+4.775), J.T. Poston (+4.470), Kurt Kitayama (+4.123), Max Homa (+3.241), J.J. Spaun (+2.835), Jason Day (+2.440), Cameron Young (+2.217), Andrew Putnam (+1.067), Matt Kuchar (+0.313), Patrick Cantlay (-0.270), Rory McIlroy (-1.079), Scottie Scheffler (-1.358), Billy Horschel (-2.062).

    Strokes Gained: Approach the Green:

    Cameron Young (7.847), Kurt Kitayama (+5.433), Xander Schauffele (+4.593), J.J. Spaun (+4.165), Patrick Cantlay (+3.277), Jason Day (+2.340), Lucas Herbert (+1.243), Scottie Scheffler (+0.550), Billy Horschel (+0.517), Matt Kuchar (+0.435), J.T. Poston (-0.103), Rory McIlroy (-0.147), Mackenzie Hughes (-0.956), Max Homa (-1.093), Andrew Putnam (-2.631), Sam Burns (-5.378).

    Here are the head-to-head odds from BetMGM Sportsbook for the round of 16 matches I’ll highlight.

    Kurt Kitayama -125 vs. Andrew Putnam +100

    Kitayama had to get through a three-man playoff Friday to get here but his approach game has been stellar and he’s backed it up with great putting. Putnam is losing strokes on approach and has just 14 par breakers through his matches.

    Cameron Young -145 vs. Billy Horschel +115

    Young has gained an incredible 7.847 strokes on approach in group play as the rookie of the year dominated and he’s backed it up with some decent putting now he’s working on a new system with new caddie Paul Tesori. Horschel won here two years ago and is a fighter but he’s the worst putter this week of those left and that’s dangerous for his chances. He’s survived somehow so far, but I can’t see him defying the odds much longer.

    Patrick Cantlay -135 vs. Sam Burns +110

    Wait you say. You’re going against Burns when he leads in putting at a sensational +7.573!? Well yeah, because these greens aren’t Bermuda so I have no idea how he’s managed this effort so far! He has needed to be this good as he’s lost -5.378 strokes on approach, normally a recipe for disaster. Cantlay’s steady play should put Burns under more pressure on the greens than he’s faced so far and it could cripple him.

    Rory McIlroy -275 vs. Lucas Herbert +200

    Full disclosure. I am Australian and this pick is going to look terribly biased of me BUT hear me out. Lucas Herbert has been putting the dots off the ball this week, and he led the TOUR in putting last season. His approach game has been solid and he’s no slouch when it comes to smashing the ball plus he leads the 16 with 21 par breakers (tied with Young). McIlroy on the other hand is losing strokes on approach AND putting. He’s survived by leading from off the tee but there are only so many par 4s he can drive here at Austin Country Club! There has been at least one seed 35th or higher make the final four all six previous years in Austin. Herbert might keep the trend rolling.

    By The Numbers – Round of 16

    Seeds: Scottie Scheffler (1), Rory McIlroy (3), Patrick Cantlay (4), Max Homa (5), Xander Schauffele (6), Sam Burns (13), Cameron Young (15), Kurt Kitayama (19), Billy Horschel (22), Jason Day (32), J.T. Poston (43), Lucas Herbert (46), Mackenzie Hughes (50), Andrew Putnam (56), Matt Kuchar (59), J.J. Spaun (61).

    Holes Played: Max Homa (32), Mackenzie Hughes (45), J.J. Spaun (46), Matt Kuchar (47), Scottie Scheffler (48), Jason Day (48), Billy Horschel (48), Andrew Putnam (48), Cameron Young (49), Xander Schauffele (50), Rory McIlroy (51), Patrick Cantlay (51), Kurt Kitayama (51), J.T. Poston (51), Sam Burns (52), Lucas Herbert (52).

    Birdies/Eagles: Cameron Young (21), Lucas Herbert (21), Patrick Cantlay (20), Sam Burns (20), Kurt Kitayama (20), Xander Schauffele (19), Jason Day (18), Rory McIlroy (17), Mackenzie Hughes (17), J.T. Poston (17), Scottie Scheffler (16), J.J. Spaun (16), Matt Kuchar (15), Andrew Putnam (14), Billy Horschel (11), Max Homa (8).

    Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee: Rory McIlroy (+6.930), Scottie Scheffler (+3.435), Jason Day (+2.920), Lucas Herbert (+2.915), Billy Horschel (+1.442), Patrick Cantlay (+1.313), J.T. Poston (+1.151), Sam Burns (+1.093), Kurt Kitayama (+0.996), Mackenzie Hughes (-0.182), Cameron Young (-0.687), Matt Kuchar (-0.769), J.J. Spaun (-0.928), Max Homa (-1.778), Xander Schauffele (-1.818), Andrew Putnam (-2.427).

    Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: Cameron Young (9.178), Rory McIlroy (+8.088), Scottie Scheffler (+7.355), Patrick Cantlay (+7.165), J.J. Spaun (+5.138), Lucas Herbert (+4.131), Xander Schauffele (+1.147), Max Homa (-3.552), Sam Burns (-4.756), Kurt Kitayama (+4.436), Jason Day (+4.356), Billy Horschel (+3.289), Matt Kuchar (+2.413), J.T. Poston (-0.367), Andrew Putnam (-0.646), Mackenzie Hughes (-0.790).

    Strokes Gained: Around the Green: Andrew Putnam (+3.735), Patrick Cantlay (+3.510), Scottie Scheffler (+2.753), Matt Kuchar (+2.441), Rory McIlroy (+2.140), Cameron Young (+1.859), Billy Horschel (+1.314), J.J. Spaun (+1.080), Lucas Herbert (+0.977), Sam Burns (+0.473), Mackenzie Hughes (-0.733), J.T. Poston (-0.673), Max Homa (-0.830), Xander Schauffele (-1.272), Jason Day (-1.392), Kurt Kitayama (-2.303).

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