Plenty of Pretenders to Match Play Crown

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Golf’s elite congregate in Austin for five days of action to see who can claim to be the world match play king.

Louis Oosthuizen can overcome a tough draw to triumph at the WGC Match Play this week.

Apart from a handful of injured absentees, the top 64 players in the world head to Texas this week for a match play clash that comes as a refreshing change of pace after a hectic start to the golf year.

The WGC Match Play is a tournament that takes plenty of winning with three group matches and potentially four knockout clashes to be negotiated, but the competition will be so fierce that no one will be able to ease into the tournament.

On the last two occasions the tournament was played, only five of the 16 top seeds have got through the group stage, with the 48th-ranked Kevin Kisner surprising everyone to take the title in 2019. So while the likes of world number one Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have all previously won this event, it could pay to look a little further down the list for a player to back.

Slow and Steady May Win the Race for King Louis

South African Louis Oosthuizen, who has reached the quarter-finals in four of his six appearances, fits that bill perfectly at 40/1.

The former Open champion has demonstrated his battling qualities in abundance as he has contended for plenty of Major trophies and he looks well placed to improve on what is a decent record.

He was 41st last time out at the Players Championship, but that came after he was 11th at the Phoenix Open and sixth at the WGC-Workday Championship.

Admittedly, he has a difficult draw with Justin Thomas in the group, who was America’s best performer in their 2018 Ryder Cup defeat and won the Players Championship a fortnight ago, but he faces him last. His other two opponents, Kevin Kisner and Matt Kuchar, might be both previous winners of this event but are in poor form, making them vulnerable to Oosthuizen, who is 11/4 to win Group 2.

Hatton Still Has Plenty to Prove

England’s Tyrrell Hatton could also be in for a big week, and at a big price of 28/1.

The High Wycombe golfer has the right to name himself among the game’s elite players having risen to eighth in the world rankings and while he missed the cut at Sawgrass in his last outing, there has been enough to like about his play over the last 12 months, when he won both the BMW PGA Championship and the Abu Dhabi Championship.

He is a consistent performer – the only other time he has missed the weekend in his last 13 tournaments was at The Masters – and group matches against Sergio Garcia and fellow Englishmen Lee Westwood and Matt Wallace, should be within his compass, particularly as he has reached the knockout stage on his last two appearances. He’s the 7/4 favourite to win Group 8.

Horschel Can Make a Big Impression

Experience of the format could be key to success and Billy Horschel has the tigerish determination and competitive nature to make him a dangerous opponent this week.

Horschel takes on debutants Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and JT Poston in his section and that could be the foundation of a successful campaign after he finished second to Morikawa in the WGC Workday.

He can build on the motivation to see off the US PGA champion and prove a value 70/1 each-way option.

*All odds correct at time of writing

A single-handicapper, James always offers an interesting insight to the world of golf, with extensive knowledge of both the US and European Tours. James also has a wealth of information about the domestic and international football scene.

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