There’s a brilliant feast of golf to look forward to over five days this week with the 16th WGC Accenture Matchplay. Commencing tomorrow, February 19th, 61 of the world’s top 64 golfers will line up in Dove Mountain, Arizona in a tournament which demands mental strength and fighting spirit as well as great strokeplay.
Matt Kuchar is the reigning champion after his 2&1 win over Hunter Mahan in last year’s final. Can the American become the first man since Tiger Woods to retain this title, or will there be a new winner in 2014?
In the absence of three of the world’s top four, it’s a wide open tournament. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott have all decided to miss out this year while many of the remaining field cite Dove Mountain as one of their lease favourite courses on the PGA Tour. Last year saw blizzards, freezing cold and delays and an early tee time can often see a fancied player come unstuck in the tricky conditions.
Despite his poor 2013, Rory McIlroy is the 11/1 favourite in the golf betting with BetBright and the 2012 finalist is many people’s tip for the title. While his form has been better over the last couple of months, he’s in a tricky quarter and will have to beat the likes of Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzl and Sergio Garcia to make it out of his group.
Poulter himself has a 22-11 record in this event and is a previous winner and formidable matchplay competitor. He also has a tough draw, however, and could easily come unstuck in his first match against the talented Rickie Fowler.
We prefer the chances of Jason Day who looks to have an easier route to the latter stages. Day finished third at this event last year and is certainly one to watch at 35/2.
Many pundits tipped Matt Kuchar last year after his third place finish in 2012 and the American duly emerged as champion at a tasty 40/1. It’s tough to retain this title – not least because you’re likely to have an early tee time in round one – and we think Kuchar’s draw is harder this time around.
Saying that, Kuchar has three-putted just three times in 2014 so far: a vital statistic in matchplay golf. He is 22/1 to retain his title, something many savvy punters are warming to in the betting markets.
With a win and two second places on the PGA Tour this year, Dustin Johnson is the in-form player and is available at 31/2. Before backing him at that price, however, it’s worth remembering that he’s been a first round loser in four out of five previous attempts.
Mid-ranked Americans have won the last two WGC World Matchplay titles and so we wouldn’t be surprised to see Webb Simpson add his name to the list in 2014.
Prior to a T70 at Riviera, Simpson had posted seven consecutive top 25 finishes on the PGA Tour and he reached the quarter finals of this event last year. Also a man who features high in the ‘three-putt avoidance’ stats, Simpson is one to watch at 27/1.
If you’re looking to back an outsider, then you could do much worse than Stephen Gallacher. The Scot defended his Dubai Desert Classic title a fortnight ago and looks to have a reasonably kind draw – if he can get past Justin Rose or Scott Piercy in round two. At 89/1, Gallacher represents excellent value.
A debutant that is worth keeping an eye on is the 21 year old Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese player finished T10, T6 and T19 in the final three Majors in 2013 and has started 2014 well. Long off the tee, he is ranked 22 in the world – and the last two Matchplay titles have been won by the world’s number 22 and 23 players. Matsuyama offers good value at 45/1.
Check out all our per-tournament odds on the WGC Accenture Matchplay Championship over on our main site at https://www.betbright.com/golf/51633018/56404148/93582148
First tee-off is at 2.25pm GMT on Wednesday, February 19th – enjoy the golf!