photo courtesy Getty Images
The 2019 WGC - Dell Technologies Match Play is just starting to heat up in the Texas sun at the Austin Country Club. The event is one of the most prestigious on the calendar and awards points for all the major golf tours, including the PGA Tour and European Tour. It features a smaller field with only the top 64 ranked golfers in the world receiving an invitation to the exclusive tournament. This makes for 5 days of very competitive golf. The tournament has a unique format in professional golf and one that can be confusing for fans unfamiliar with the tournament.
Unlike most other tournaments that select a winner based on their cumulative number of strokes, this tournament (as its name suggests) is instead decided by match play. Match play involves two golfers dueling for individual holes over a round of golf. Whoever achieves the lowest score on a hole earns a point, with no points awarded for tied or lost holes.
Austin Country Club. photo courtesy of Austin Monitor
The tournament starts with a group stage before moving to single elimination games until only 1 golfer remains unbeaten. During the group stage their are 16 groups of 4 golfers, and each golfer plays the other 3 golfers in his group. Wins are awarded 2 points, while halved games are awarded 1 pt. At the end of group stage play only the group winners advance to the single elimination round. In the case of a tie for 1st place in the group, the tied golfers will play a sudden death playoff to decide the group winner.
The groups are chosen by blind draw. This begins by seeding the golfers into 4 pots, with each pots filled with the golfers ranked 1-16, 17-32, 33-48, and 49-64 respectively. When the draw happens, a golfer from each pot is drawn out and placed into a group to make sure each group is fairly even in terms of talent. Even with this precaution, groups can end up with 4 strong golfers. This year Group 12 looks the most competitive with a foursome of Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Jim Furyk looking to advance in the tournament.
Once the dust has settled on the group stage, the group winners will be drawn against each other into a bracket. The round of 16 takes place Saturday morning, with the quarterfinals following on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning hosts the semifinals, followed by the third place playoff match for the losers. The finalists play their match Sunday afternoon with over $1.7 million dollars on the line.
2017 Bracket. Image courtesy of the European Tour
Television coverage of the tournament is provided by the Golf Channel and NBC. The early rounds will be shown Wednesday-Friday, 2-8pm ET on Golf Channel. Saturday coverage begins on Golf Channel 10am-2pm ET before switching to NBC from 2-6pm ET. Sunday also begins on the Golf Channel 10am-2pm before the championship match is played on NBC from 3-7pm ET. Streaming of the tournament is also available through PGA Tour Live while radio coverage is provided by PGA Tour Radio on SiriusXM and at PGATour.com.