That’s the group stage done and dusted at the WGC Match Play in Austin, with the tournament living up to its reputation for surprises.
World no. 2 Rory McIlroy, number four ranked Hideki Matsuyama and number six ranked Jordan Speith are already heading home. Indeed only 5 of the 16 seeds have made to through to the last 16.
Now comes the knock out phase. What we’ve learnt so far is that the course is not easy and the conditions windy. The greens are quick, and the ability to scramble with a cute short game looks important.
The world’s no. 1 ranked player, Dustin Johnson, remains in the tournament and looks in ominous form, but 11/4 underestimates the challenge of a half of the draw that still contains danger men, Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka and Bubba Watson.
It’s the other half of the draw that looks ripe for the picking. Big-hitting Iberian Dustin Johnson clone Jon Rahm has an obvious route to the semi-final. However his run could end there if, as we suspect, he faces huge crowd favourite Phil Mickelson.
Lefty’s magical short game has seen him romp through his group, and although Mark Leishman is a tricky last 16 opponent, we expect that Mickelson magic to prevail. This is not a tournament he has warmed to in the past, but with the scent of victory in his nostrils for the first time he looks good value at double figure prices.
Recommendation: Phil Mickelson, 10/1 generally available
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