Roundtable: Picks, potential matches for WGC-Dell Match Play’s knockout rounds
10 Min Read
Written by Staff @PGATOUR
Sixteen men remain at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Three-quarters of the field was eliminated by the three days of pool play that concluded Friday. Now four rounds of old-school, single-elimination match play remain to determine a champion on Sunday.
With so many brackets likely busted, this esteemed panel is resetting its picks and selecting its winners from the 16 men who earned weekend tee times in Austin. We’ll also take a look at some of the exciting matches that could come out of the bracket if the cards fall correctly.
To get you ready for the knockout stage, which will be completed over two rounds apiece Saturday and Sunday, here is our roundtable on what we expect (and hope) to see during one of the most exciting weekends of the year.
Pick at start of week:. Scottie Scheffler. Shocker, I know. Nothing I’ve seen so far has given me even the slightest reason to change my mind.
Your new pick for winner: Scottie Scheffler. See above. He already successfully defended his title at this year’s WM Phoenix Open, almost did it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (finishing T4) and now has a chance to do it in Austin. Oh, and he’s coming off his PLAYERS win.
Dream final: Max Homa vs. Rory McIlroy. Scheffler-McIlroy is a popular pick, and for good reason. It’s a rematch from the TOUR Championship, where McIlroy overcame Scheffler’s six-shot lead in the final round to snatch away the FedExCup. I still think Scheffler will win but would also love to see Homa-McIlroy just to see the contortions Golf Twitter would put itself through. It wouldn’t know what to do with itself except to sit back and enjoy.
Potential match you'd most like to see: There’s a few. Scheffler vs. Sam Burns is one. They’re good buddies and frequent roommates on the road. Scheffler vs. Cameron Young is another one. I tweeted earlier this week that Young’s pickup of Paul Tesori reminded me of when Scheffler snagged Ted Scott. Scheffler was a tantalizing prospect and former Rookie of the Year who was still seeking his first win when he got Scott on his bag. It worked out well, and three days into his relationship with Tesori, Young seems to be following suit. And finally Kurt Kitayama versus Rory McIlroy. They had a good showdown in the fall at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina. I just love the juxtapositions in how they create power. McIlroy is so smooth. Kitayama backswing is one slow contortion that builds up enough kinetic energy to pack a lot of punch in his small frame.
Pick at start of week: Scottie Scheffler. Steady is as steady does. It’s Scottie and everyone else these days.
Your new pick for winner: Scottie Scheffler. Picking the winner of the Match Play typically should be folly, but can it really be this easy? The question should be, “Who’s going to take Scheffler down?” I joked pre-tournament that if you were posed “Scheffler or the field,” it would have been a thinker, and that’s absurd in this format.
Dream final: Dream is a relative term. One needs to notice only that there’s exactly one Aussie on both sides of the bracket, so I don’t need to read Ben’s dream to know what it is, and that’s fair. For me, because McIlroy is on the opposite side of the bracket as Homa, it’s Max v. Rory. The latest narrative of a “Big 3” in golf omits Homa, but he belongs in that group. He might have to get through Scheffler, another member of the “Big 3” (with Jon Rahm), but the Americans can’t meet in the finale.
Potential match you'd most like to see: Homa v. Scheffler. I know that Homa doesn’t (yet) have a win in a major like each member of the “Big 3,” but if he could upend Scheffler AND McIlroy for the Walter Hagen Cup, I’d like to believe that his inclusion in a “Big 4” would gain traction in earnest. How's that for perspective!
Pick at start of week: Tyrrell Hatton. He got blanked, losing his final match, 3 and 2, to Russell Henley, but I maintain Hatton looked good in finishing runner-up at THE PLAYERS Championship. We’ll see whether the stinger he got in his right hand 20 minutes before his tee time Wednesday is of any longer-term concern.
Your new pick for winner: Scottie Scheffler. I am starting to sense a certain inevitability with this guy. He didn’t play all that well in winning his first match, 1-up, over Davis Riley, and wasn’t pushed that hard in his second- and third-round wins over Alex Noren and Tom Kim. Scheffler has 14 birdies, two eagles, 25 pars, two bogeys, one double, zero conceded holes, and I’m not sure he’s hit top gear yet.
Dream final: Scottie Scheffler vs. Rory McIlroy. Rory came here trying to get used a new driver shaft and in the early hours of a putting change. Both moves have paid off, and his canon-blast tee shot on 18 on Thursday was an instant classic. He won this tournament at TPC Harding Park in 2015, and for him to take on Scheffler – making two of the new Big 3 in the championship match – would be almost too much to hope for. Who would win? I don’t know, but I’d make Scheffler the favorite.
Potential match you’d most like to see: Other than Rory and Scheffler dueling late Sunday, I’d love to see Jason Day take on Scheffler in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon. Day, a two-time winner here (2016, 2014) will have to get past another past champ, Matt Kuchar (2013), to get to a potential clash with the world No. 1 and defending champion. Scheffler will play J.T. Poston on Saturday morning for the right to take on Day in the afternoon.
Lead Fantasy & Betting
Pick at start of week: Jon Rahm In a week where the chalk fared pretty well, Rahm was a notable outlier. An opening-day loss to Rickie Fowler put him on the ropes, but he was nothing like his early 2023 self during a Friday loss to Billy Horschel in which he exited without making a single birdie. To put it plainly, he picked a bad day to have a bad day.
Your new pick for winner: Xander Schauffele. Scottie Scheffler has to lose eventually. Right? I think the world No. 1 makes it to the final but can’t overcome Schauffele, who has a knack for going on heaters in match play. Schauffele has been flying under the radar of late, and probably isn’t getting enough attention at this stage given the other big names still standing in the bracket. But come Sunday, they’ll all be looking up at him.
Dream final: Scottie Scheffler vs. Rory McIlroy. I mean, how good would that be? Two of the three best players all year, who have combined to lose exactly 0 matches through the first three days. McIlroy authored the shot of the tournament, toppling Denny McCarthy with a single towering drive on the final hole Thursday, and it would be an absolute treat to watch the two of them square off on Sunday with the title hanging in the balance.
Potential match you'd like to see: Now that Mackenzie Hughes ruined a potential Montgomery-Burns quarterfinal that would have melted this Simpsons fan’s heart, I’ll go with a Scheffler-Homa semifinal. Homa has leveled up considerably in recent months, winning at Torrey Pines and nearly toppling Rahm at Riviera. If he’s able to take out the defending champ it could truly stamp his name among the top contenders heading into The Masters.
Senior Writer, Golfbet
Pick at start of week: Jason Day. Day has fared exactly as expected, if not better, going 3-0-0 in the group to set up a round of 16 match against Matt Kuchar. He will win that, then take out Scheffler in the afternoon on his way to becoming just the second three-time winner of this event behind Tiger Woods.
Your new pick for winner: Jason Day. See Above. Day's not only hitting the ball well, he's making putts like he did back when he was the best player in the world.
Dream final: Jason Day vs. Rory McIlroy. Back in 2016 the semi final between the 2014 champion Day against the 2015 champion McIlroy was an instant classic. Day prevailed 1 up with a clutch putt on the 18th green in a sensational battle. The Aussie would then destroy Louis Oosthuizen in the final. A rematch would be mouth-watering.
Potential match you'd most like to see: The final above is on the list, as is a quarterfinal of Day vs. Scottie Scheffler. Both have a major and a PLAYERS to their name, both have won at Austin Country Club and both have spent time at world No. 1. Oh baby, bring it on.
Pick at start of week: Will Zalatoris. The bet was on his ball striking leading him to success and getting him back on track in what’s been a rocky start to the season. Well, Zalatoris lost his first two matches and withdrew Friday morning with an illness. Back to the drawing board.
Your new pick for winner: Rory McIlroy. A past winner of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in 2015, McIlroy seems to be rekindling some of that mid 2010s feel with a Scotty Cameron putter back in his bag and the driver straightened out. He’s always focused on rounding into form for the majors. This could be the start of a magical run to Augusta.
Dream final: McIlroy vs. Scottie Scheffler. Hard not to root for this matchup. A battle of two top-3 players in the world with Scheffler trying to defend his title. Sign me up.
Potential match you'd most like to see: A Scheffler-Jason Day matchup in the quarterfinals would be a treat. As would Scheffler meeting Max Homa in the semifinals. No path to this title is ever easy and watching Scheffler navigate it would be some great theater.
Pick at start of week: Keith Mitchell. The 31-year-old entered the week with two top-five finishes in his last five starts, and his blend of power and recently-improved finesse looked to be well suited for the match-play format where birdies are ever-valuable. The Georgia alum couldn’t quite get over the edge in a stacked group with Jon Rahm, Billy Horschel and Rickie Fowler, though. Gave it a run.
Your new pick for winner: Rory McIlroy. I still can’t get over that tee shot on the 18th in Thursday’s match against Denny McCarthy. Carrying it 349 yards en route to a conceded eagle?! A game of which I am unfamiliar. Expect to see plenty of birdies from McIlroy this weekend and a fearless brand of golf. Looks to be a good formula for the Northern Irishman to make a run through the bracket.
Dream final: J.T. Poston vs. Rory McIlroy. Poston has embraced a chip on his shoulder for the majority of his pro golf career, and despite two wins on TOUR – including 72 bogey-free holes at the 2019 Wyndham Championship – he still flies under the radar at times. This weekend could change that, as the smooth-putting North Carolina native went 3-0-0 in group play to breeze into the Round of 16. Intrigue would abound in a final match against one of golf’s icons.
Potential match you'd most like to see: Max Homa-Mackenzie Hughes. Not even a potential match; it’s on tap for Saturday morning! Both players graduated from the 2016 Korn Ferry Tour and have taken varied paths to meet again in Austin – Hughes won in his fifth TOUR start as a member that fall, while Homa lost his card in 2017 and regained it through the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour Finals before rising to superstardom. Now Hughes looks to catch up to Homa among the game’s elite, and the Round of 16 provides a chance to bolster that climb.