WGC Match Play: Rory Jumps the Queue After Comeback Win

Supporters of Rory McIlroy would have been delighted with his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday. After a frustrating period, he won in some style, showing glimpses of the old Rory as a last round 64 led to a three-shot triumph over the chasing pack.

There is a switch in emphasis this week as we cover the only WGC Championship to follow the match play format where McIlroy jumps right to the top of the betting. We had a decent week ourselves with two of our Top Ten Tips dropping in at 11/8 and 9/2 respectively so let’s see what’s in store as we head down to Austin, Texas.

Out in Front

McIlroy is also a former winner of this event and that fact, coupled with his return to form at the weekend make him a narrow favourite for the WGC Match Play at best odds of 8/1 with Ladbrokes and 188Bet. He’s a very popular figure with golf fans and punters alike but does Rory really deserve to be ahead of the World Number One and defending champion Dustin Johnson?

DJ is on offer at the same win price as McIlroy with some bookies but elsewhere he is a point behind at a top price of 9/1 with Sky Bet and 888Sport. After a tour win at the start of the year, it’s been tougher going for Johnson and he has been taking regular breaks from competition which won’t help momentum so perhaps that’s why he’s second favourite this week.

Following On

Rory McIlroy

Jason Day is a two-time winner of this event and as a man who clearly likes the Match Play format, there will be a lot of interest in the Australian this week at best odds of 14/1 with Bet365 and Coral. Also on offer at that same top price of 14/1 is Jon Rahm who can be claimed at that figure with William Hill and 188Bet.

Slightly shorter at a best of 12/1 with Unibet and Sky Bet is Justin Thomas and with a gap to the next golfer, those three make up our chasing pack. We’ve mentioned Jason Day’s pedigree in this event so clearly he is a fine match play exponent while it’s worth noting that Rahm lost by just one shot to Dustin Johnson in last year’s final. The Spaniard is still enjoying his breakthrough and while his form has dropped of late, there is enough quality to go one better in 2018.

Outsider Options

Paul Casey sat out the Arnold Palmer Invitational after winning the Valspar Championship the previous week so there will be definite interest in the Englishman at a top price of 22/1 with Sky Bet and 188Bet. Casey has also been a runner up in this tournament on two previous occasions and that’s clearly worth taking into consideration.

At 20/1 is Jordan Spieth who continues to drift in the win markets after a poor run of form. The reigning Open Champion can be picked up at that 20/1 figure with Bet365 and 10Bet and he’s getting to the point where his ante post odds are becoming hard to turn down.

We’re still in mid-price range however and with 64 of the best golfers in this field, there is some serious value if we move down the list. Tommy Fleetwood is enjoying his time on the PGA Tour and will tempt many at his best odds of 40/1 with Bet365 and 10Bet while fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton also looks comfortable Stateside and comes in at those same best odds of 40/1 with Sky Bet.

Kevin Chappell finished strongly at the Arnold Palmer on Sunday and we like the look of his top price at 80/1 with Ladbrokes and Betway and there is a host of golfers around or over the 100/1 mark that just can’t be ruled out. Matt Kuchar at 70/1 with Sky Bet, Louis Oosthuizen at 66/1 with William Hill, Webb Simpson at 100/1 with Unibet and Charley Hoffman at 100/1 with Sky Bet all have the potential to come through and upset this market.

Course, Trends and Indicators

This is one event that likes to rotate its venue and we have seen the WGC Matchplay switch courses a number of times in its twenty year history. For now, we’re down at the Austin Country Club in Texas which is a short par 71 which, in stroke play at least, will favour the longer hitters.

In Match Play the element of the unknown comes into play although in the last three years, no-one beyond the second seed has come through to win it. That trend can be bucked at any time and it may be worth remembering that our first winner, Jeff Maggert in 1999, went off at 100/1 in the ante post betting.

With a 64 strong field and so much quality in the lower reaches of the outright betting, this is going to be a tough call.

Verdict

While the nature of this event means there will be lots of betting options for every single match, in terms of outright betting, we have to concentrate on picking a winner. We would have maybe looked to hedge slightly if there had been a To Reach the Final option but the pressure is on to make the right call.

Rory has the form while Dustin Johnson is the best golfer in the world and as previous winners of this event, both men have a strong case. As another former winner, Matt Kuchar is our man to watch from the list of outsiders and is worth a small stake at that excellent 70/1 price.

As for the preferred winner, we’ll opt for Jon Rahm who will be confident of going deep into the tournament after finishing as runner up twelve months ago. The Spaniard will also be looking to impress in the Match Play format in a Ryder Cup year and he’ll surely be back to his best in short order.

Best Bets for WGC Match Play 2018:

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