The WGC Match Play event has gone through many changes over its tournament history. In 2015 the most current form of the tournament came into existence with the introduction of group play. The field’s 64 competitors from across the PGA, European Tour and the world of golf are now split in 16 groups of four.
The bracket draw is simple. Take 64 of the world’s top golf competitors, split them into four sets of rankings (1-16, 17-32, 33-48 and 49-64) and pick one player from each to build 16 round robin groups. The four players in each group will play their other three competitors over the first three days of play. The golfer with the best record advances to the single elimination round of 16.
In the first four year of this new WGC Match Play layout we’ve seen a number of upsets, remarkable runs and more. Last Word on Golf has the facts and stats to help you fill out your 2019 WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Bracket.
The Advantage of being the Top seed
23- Of the 64 players to advance to the single elimination round of 16, 23 have been the top seed in their respective round robin group.
75%- In four years of the group play stage of the WGC Match Play three out of the four winners have been part of the 16 top seeded players entering the tournament. The lone underdog to win was in 2018 when third-seeded, 35th ranked overall, Bubba Watson.
50%- Half of the competitors to make it to the final four have been one-seeds. Three of the top seeded players in the field made it to the final four in 2016, the most of any tournament thus far.
10- It’s not all easy paths to the round of 16 for top seeded players. Since 2015 a total of 10 top-seeds have failed to not just advance from their group but came in last place out of their group of four.. The only player to have that unenviable distinction more than once is Jason Day (2015, 2017). Despite not having the best of luck those years, Day did win the event the year before it switched to group play and finished runner-up in 2016 to Louis Oosthuizen.
2016- In the third year under the new format, 2016 saw a record eight top-seeded players advance from the group stage. It also was the only year that zero top-seeds were the last to finish in their group.
49- Getting out to a successful start is a clear path to victory. Out of the 64 players that have advanced to the round of 16, 49 have won their opening match. Seven have halved the first match of group play while eight have battled back from a loss to come back and win their group.
The Bracket Busters
3- The 36-year old Louis Oosthuizen may not be the flashiest name on the bracket but the South African produces in match play. The 2016 WGC Match Play champion has made it to the round of 16 in three of the past four year and the round of eight twice.
20%- In what may seem higher than initially thought both three and four-seeded players have an equal 20% chance to make the round of 16. Each set has produced 13 players to advance while the number two-seeds have had only two more players make the round of 16 (24%).
8- Eight countries have represented the final four since 2015. The United States leads the way with seven competitors. Spain has had two different competitors reach the final four while Northern Ireland has been represented twice but both times by Rory McIlroy. Sweden, Japan, Australia, South Africa and England have each had one player reach the final day of play.
4- The four-seeds, or lowest ranked in each group, have had one player represent that last set of ranked players in every final four except 2018.
1- Only one of those last seeded players, Gary Woodland in 2015, has made it to the Championship match where he lost to Rory McIlroy.
63- The 2016 WGC Match Play set plenty of records in the modern era of the match play tournament. Another that was set that year was by Patton Kizzire who was the lowest seed to advance past the group stage and into the round of 16. Kizzire came into the tournament ranked 63rd (out of 64) overall but would lose to Ryan Moore and come up short of making the elite eight.
7- Despite not playing in the WGC Match Play event since 2013, it’s nearly impossible to not mention Tiger Woods. In 13 prior WGC Match Play appearances Woods has made the round of 16 seven times and won the event three years including back to back in 2003 and 2004 as well as 2008.
Experience pays off
2006- In one of the most important stats of the day, excluding the inaugural tournament, the only year a first time player in the WGC Match Play has won was Geoff Ogilvy in 2006. In the 12 years since Ogilvy’s win no player has made their first appearance in the 64 man field and went on to win that year. As the old adage goes “experience pays off” and in order to win at the Austin Country Club this weekend hedge your bets on someone who’s been around the tee box a couple of times.