WGC Dell Technologies Match Play: Tournament Format & History

By Todd Mrowice

Billy Horschel wins WGC Dell technologies Match

The WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is one of the more unique events on the PGA Tour schedule, held each March at Austin Country Club. The match-play event has given fans some memorable head-to-head battles which they don't often get during a stroke play tournament.

The match play tournament dates back to 1999 and has featured some marquee winners, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day.

The 2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, March 22-26, will offer a total purse of $20 million, which is up $8 million from 2022. It also has 550 FedEx Cup points up for grabs. The defending champion is Scottie Scheffler, who won the finale over Kevin Kisner.

Match Play

Unlike most other tournaments that crown a champion based on total strokes, the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play (as its name suggests) is 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 wins the hole, with no winner for tied holes.

Group Stage

The tournament starts with a group stage before moving to single-elimination matches until only one golfer remains. During the group stage, there are 16 groups of four golfers, and each golfer plays a match against the other three golfers in his group. Wins are worth two points, while halved matches are worth one point.

At the end of group play, the winner of each of the 16 groups advances to the single-elimination bracket play. If there's a tie for first place in the group, the tied golfers play a sudden-death playoff to decide the group winner.

Single Elimination

Once the dust has settled on the group stage, the group winners head to bracket play. 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 match for the losers. The finalists play the final match on Sunday afternoon to determine the winner.

The match play championship is one of the most grueling tournaments to win, as the players who make the Sunday afternoon matches will have played three group stage matches, plus round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal, and final (or consolation) matches, a total seven rounds of golf over five long days.

Austin Country Club

Austin Country Club has hosted the previous six WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play events. The course is basically built into the Colorado River and is easily accessible off Route 360. Casual golf viewers will recognize the course by the frequent shots of the Pennybacker Bridge, which sits over Lake Austin. Its arch form is practically on the golf course.

The private club was founded in 1899 and is one of the oldest clubs in all of Texas. Interestingly, however, 123 years of existence only apply to the name. The course is in its third location, and the current track was designed by famous golf course designer Pete Dye and opened in 1984.

Austin Country Club is synonymous with one of the game’s greatest instructors, Harvey Penick. He began there as a caddie and eventually lived out the rest of his days calling Austin Country Club his home. In fact, the furthest tee box at the club is called the Harvey tees. They measure 7,062 yards with a 75.2 rating and 152 slope (par-72).

WGC Match Play All-Time Winners, Scores and Winnings

Tiger Woods made his mark as being one of, if not the best, match-play golfers of all time at this very event. Woods has won this tournament a record three times (2003, 2004, 2008) and finished runner-up once (2000).

On a memorable Tiger note, he dismantled Stephen Ames in this event in 2006. When asked how he felt about his chances against Woods, Ames said: “Anything can happen. Especially where he’s hitting it.” Tiger went on to win every hole on the front nine and halved the 10th to hand Ames a ridiculous 9&8 drubbing. When asked if he had any extra motivation heading into the match, Woods said: “Oh yeah. There certainly was. Stephen provided it. I think I did alright today. I think he understands now.”

In 2002, Kevin Sutherland won the event as the 62nd seed, the record for the lowest-seeded player ever to win that still stands today. It was his only PGA Tour victory, but it was a memorable one. He defeated the number one golfer in the world, David Duval, as well as Jim Furyk and David Toms on his way to victory, and culminated his win by defeating Scott McCarron 1 up.

The No. 1 seed has won the WGC-Dell Technologies Play five times. Tiger in all three of his wins, Rory McIlroy in 2015, and Dustin Johnson in 2017.

In addition to his win in 2019, Kevin Kisner has a pair of runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2022. Two other players have two runner-up finishes. Paul Casey did it back-to-back in 2009-10, and Davis Love III in 2004 and 2006.

The 2020 championship was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 23 events thus far, golfers from the U.S. have had the most success, with 14 victories. Players from England and Australia have each had four wins. The lone win for a player from any other country is Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who won in 2007.

Other courses to have hosted the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play are:

  • TPC Harding Park (2015)
  • Dove Mountain Golf Club (2009-2014)
  • The Gallery Golf Club (2007-2008)
  • Metropolitan Golf Club (2001)
  • La Costa Resort (1999-2000, 2002-2006)

Year

Winner (seed)

Runner-Up (seed)

Score

Winner’s Share

2023 - - - $3,600,000

2022

Scottie Scheffler (5)

Kevin Kisner (29)

4&3

$2,160,000

2021

Billy Horschel (32)

Scottie Scheffler (30)

2&1

$1,820,000

2019

Kevin Kisner (48)

Matt Kuchar (23)

3&2

$1,745,000

2018

Bubba Watson (35)

Kevin Kisner (32)

7&6

$1,700,000

2017

Dustin Johnson (1)

Jon Rahm (21)

1 UP

$1,660,000

2016

Jason Day (2)

Louis Oosthuizen (16)

5&4

$1,620,000

2015

Rory McIlroy (1)

Gary Woodland (50)

4&2

$1,570,000

2014

Jason Day (8)

Victor Dubuisson (27)

23 Holes

$1,530,000

2013

Matt Kuchar (21)

Hunter Mahan (23)

2&1

$1,500,000

2012

Hunter Mahan (21)

Rory McIlroy (2)

2&1

$1,400,000

2011

Luke Donald (9)

Martin Maymer (2)

3&2

$1,400,000

2010

Ian Poulter (9)

Paul Casey (6)

4&2

$1,400,000

2009

Geoff Ogilvy (8)

Paul Casey (23)

4&3

$1,400,000

2008

Tiger Woods (1)

Stewart Cink (22)

8&7

$1,350,000

2007

Henrik Stenson (9)

Geoff Ogilvy (11)

2&1

$1,350,000

2006

Geoff Ogilvy (52)

Davis Love III (23)

3&2

$1,300,000

2005

David Toms (14)

Chris DiMarco (16)

6&5

$1,300,000

2004

Tiger Woods (1)

Davis Love III (3)

3&2

$1,200,000

2003

Tiger Woods (1)

David Toms (6)

2&1

$1,050,000

2002

Kevin Sutherland (62)

Scott McCarron (45)

1 UP

$1,000,000

2001

Steve Stricker (55)

Pierre Fulke (21)

2&1

$1,000,000

2000

Darren Clarke (19)

Tiger Woods (1)

4&3

$1,000,000

1999

Jeff Maggert (24)

Andrew Magee (50)

38 Holes

$1,000,000


About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. His experience spans over 15 years and he has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours. Todd has also put his deep knowledge of golf equipment to work as a club fitter and in several marketing roles in the golf industry. He has a hole-in-one on his playing resume and appropriately gave his son the middle name “Ace.”