Jordan Spieth, the former University of Texas star, calls Austin his second home, his favorite city in the world. So naturally, he’d love to win this week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, which starts Wednesday at the Austin Country Club.
On Monday, Spieth found out the three players he’ll need to beat in order to even think about making the weekend knockout rounds that lead to Sunday afternoon’s finale.
Spieth, who is fifth in this week’s world rankings, headlines the pod of Ryan Moore, Yuta Ikeda and Hideto Tanihara. Moore is the second seeded player in the grouping and will be a formidable opponent.
Moore, a last-minute selection to the American team, clinched the winning point last October to give the United States the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008. Down two holes, Moore had a come-from-behind victory over Lee Westwood by finishing with eagle, birdie, par.
Spieth said that Moore probably would be in everyone’s top five on who’s among the toughest to beat in match play. Moore was successful in Austin last March, reaching the quarterfinals.
Both Ikeda, who is seeded third in the group, and Tanihara, who is fourth, play mainly on the Japanese pro tour.
Spieth came into last year’s tournament ranked first in the world. He won his group, but lost in the round of 16 to South Africa’s Louis Oostheizen.
The Dell Match Play bracket was revealed Monday night during a ritzy cocktail party at the Hotel Van Zandt in downtown Austin. Guests included Michael Dell, Gov. Greg Abbott, new Texas football coach Tom Herman and former Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy.
“I was thrilled with the response from the community,” Dell told the American-Statesman. “The golf course is beautiful. ACC was tremendous. I’m especially pleased with the community impact because we’ve been able to create donations of more than $1 million for youth development.”
As it was last year, the field is divided into 16 groups of four. The winners of each group are determined in rounds Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A win is worth one point, and tie scores a half point. The winner of the group is the player with the most points.
The round of 16 and quarterfinals will be played Saturday. The semifinals and finals are Sunday. Each weekend match is single elimination.
Australia’s Jason Day, who won last year’s tournament, comes into Austin as the No. 2-ranked player in the world. His semifinal win over Rory McIlroy last year probably was the best of the tournament.
Day’s group also has Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood and Pat Perez.
World top-ranked golfer Dustin Johnson lost in last year’s quarterfinals. Winning his group will be a huge accomplishment. It includes former Baylor star Jimmy Walker, who won last year’s PGA Championship. The third-seed is Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who has won two majors. The fourth seed is Webb Simpson, a former winner of the U.S. Open.
Justin Thomas, who has won three times this season, is seeded sixth in Austin. His group has Matt Fitzpatrick, Kevin Na and Chris Wood. Both Fitzpatrick and Wood were on last year’s European Ryder Cup team.
Defending Masters champion Danny Willett didn’t make it out of the preliminary rounds in Austin last year. He’s seeded 11th this week and will play Russell Knox, Bill Haas and K.T. Kim.
McIlroy won the 2014 tournament, which was played in San Francisco. He’s third in the world in this week’s rankings. He talked Monday about how much he loved Austin and how he needed to play well to extend his stay in Central Texas as long as possible.
“Obviously, I think the course was well received,” McIlroy said. “The city as a hole was well received. Personally, Austin was one of the most enjoyable weeks of the year.”
DELL MATCH PLAY
This week’s schedule of events for the Dell Technologies Match Play tournament:
Wednesday-Sunday, Austin Country Club, Golf Channel, NBC
This week’s schedule
Pool play, first round. Gates open at 8:30 a.m.; tee times between 9:30 a.m. and 3:11 p.m. Golf Channel coverage: 1-7 p.m.
Pool play, second round. Gates open at 8:30; tee times between 9:30 a.m. and 3:11 p.m. Golf Channel coverage: 1-7 p.m.
Pool play, third round. Gates open at 8:30; tee times between 9:30 a.m. and 3:11 p.m. Golf Channel coverage: 1-7 p.m.
Round of 16 (fourth round) and quarterfinals. Gates open at 6:30 a.m. Round of 16 tee times between 7:30 and 8:47 a.m.; quarterfinal tee times between 12:25 and 1:10 p.m. Golf Channel coverage: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; NBC coverage: 1-5 p.m.
Semifinals, consolation match and championship match. Gates open at 8 a.m. Semifinal tee times at 9 and 9:11 a.m.; consolation match at 2 p.m.; championship match at 2:15 p.m. Golf Channel coverage: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; NBC coverage: 2-6 p.m.