23 Mar 2022 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Four face up to Match Play madness

by PGA of Australia

Adam Scott faces the 'group of death' this week.

By Tony Webeck

Four Australians will line up for golf’s version of March madness when the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play tees off at Austin Country Club in Texas on Thursday morning.

With America in the midst of the NCAA basketball phenomenon that grips the nation each March golf unveils its own bracket, albeit in a modified format to the match play structure traditionally used in leading amateur events throughout the world.

In a field of 64 players split up into 16 groups of four, each of the four Aussies are guaranteed a minimum of three matches before the knockout element kicks in.

Debutant Min Woo Lee has been drawn in Group 12 alongside defending champion Billy Horschel, Thomas Pieters and Tom Hoge with fellow first-timer Lucas Herbert to go up against Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Takumi Kanaya for the right to advance from Group 7.

Adam Scott has been drawn in what is arguably the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose in Group 11 while Marc Leishman will have his hands full getting past Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner and Luke List in Group 6.

If Scott and Leishman were both to progress they would face off in an all-Aussie Round 4 match-up but in his first Match Play appearance since 2016, Scott knows getting out of the group stage will be a win in its own right.

“They’re all tough matches, all major champions,” Scott said of the Group 11 challenge.

“There aren’t easy groups here, and I expect every match to be very difficult.

“It’s not a regular event, and you get the opportunity to kind of get a result every day. So that’s fun.

“Even if you don’t win the tournament, you might win three or four or five matches this week.

“Winning seems fun, so I think that’s what’s cool or different about it.

“You can kind of test where your game is at by being quite aggressive out there.”

For Lee – who upset Thomas Pieters at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth in 2019 – the Match Play shapes as the perfect platform to launch his career in the US.

After starting the year with three straight missed cuts the No.55 player in the world has spent time with coach Ritchie Smith to make an impact in a format that suits his style of play.

“It’s completely different,” Lee said of the match play mindset.

“You have a practice round and you’re hitting driver off some tees, but then if a player does really good or does really bad, it changes up the situation and you hit a different tee shot.

“It’s completely different. You are playing another player, not the course.

“I’m excited. I used to play match play a lot as a junior and an amateur, so I’m excited to get back to the Match Play.

“I had my coach out for the last couple weeks, so (my game) is a lot better. The first few weeks out on the PGA TOUR it was a bit rough. The courses were a bit different. But this course looks really

nice and suits my game, so I’m excited.”

The WGC event in Austin is just one of nine tournaments around the world where Aussies are in action.

Stephanie Kyriacou makes her LPGA Tour debut at the JTBC Classic in California, Louis Dobbelaar returns to the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica in Argentina and Grace Kim will play her first Epson Tour of the year in California.

Round 1 tee times AEDT

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Austin CC, Austin, Texas Round 1 matches 1.31am Adam Scott v Justin Rose 1.53am Marc Leishman v Kevin Kisner 3.21am Lucas Herbert v Tony Finau 4.16am Min Woo Lee v Billy Horschel

Round 2 matches 1.42am Lucas Herbert v Xander Schauffele 2.59am Min Woo Lee v Thomas Pieters 5.55am Adam Scott v Keegan Bradley                                 6.06am Marc Leishman v Justin Thomas

Defending champion: Billy Horschel Past Aussie winners: Geoff Ogilvy (2006, 2009), Jason Day (2014, 2016) Top Aussie prediction: Adam Scott TV schedule: Live on GolfTV. Review Monday from 7.30pm-8.30pm on Fox Sports 503

PGA TOUR Corales Puntacana Championship Corales Golf Course, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 10.07pm             Aaron Baddeley, Vaughn Taylor, Scott Brown 10.29pm             Cameron Percy, Tommy Gainey, Rafa Cabrera Bello 10.40pm             Greg Chalmers, Bill Haas, Wyndham Clark 11.13pm             Brett Drewitt, Bo Hoag, Rick Lamb

Defending champion: Joel Dahmen Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Brett Drewitt TV schedule: Live 1.30am-4.30am Friday, Saturday; Live 5am-8am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503

DP World Tour Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Doha GC, Doha, Qatar 3.45pm*             Jason Scrivener, Ahmed Marjan, Darren Fichardt 8.15pm Wade Ormsby, Alejandro Canizares, Justin Walters 6.55pm*             Scott Hend, Søren Kjeldsen, Faisal Salhab 7.15pm*             Maverick Antcliff, Abdulrahman Al Shahrani, Lucas Bjerregaard

Defending champion: Antoine Rozner Past Aussie winners: Adam Scott (2002, 2008) Top Aussie prediction: Jason Scrivener TV schedule: Live 8pm-1am Thursday, Friday; Live 10.55pm-12.30am Saturday; Live 9.30pm-12.30am Sunday on Fox Sports 503

LPGA Tour JTBC Classic Aviara Golf Club, Carlsbad, California Australasians in the field: Lydia Ko, Hannah Green, Sarah Kemp, Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk, Stephanie Kyriacou

Defending champion: Inbee Park Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Hannah Green TV schedule: 1pm-3pm Friday, Saturday; Live 8am-11am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503

Asian Tour The DGC Open Delhi Golf Club, Delhi, India Australasians in the field: Jack Munro, Blake Collyer, Travis Smyth, Will Heffernan, Cory Crawford, Ben Eccles, Kevin Yuan

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Blake Collyer TV schedule: Live 7pm-10.30pm Saturday on Fox Sports 506; Live 5.30pm-9.30pm on Fox Sports 503

Korn Ferry Tour Lake Charles Championship Country Club at Golden Nugget, Lake Charles, Louisiana 12.20am             Curtis Luck, Nicholas Lindheim, Braden Thornberry 1.30am Nick Voke, Vincent Norrman, Alex Weiss 2.20am Ryan Ruffels, Brandon Hoelzer, Ryan Grider 5.30am Steven Bowditch, Jimmy Stanger, Alexandre Rocha 5.50am Rhein Gibson, Carl Yuan, Joey Garber 7.10am*             Harrison Endycott, John Pak, Thomas Rosenmueller

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Curtis Luck

Epson Tour IOA Championship Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon, Beaumont, California Australasians in the field: Robyn Choi, Julienne Soo, Sarah Jane Smith, Hira Naveed, Gabriela Ruffels, Grace Kim, Amelia Garvey, Soo Jin Lee

Defending champion: Sophie Hausmann Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Grace Kim

PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Termas de Rio Hondo Invitational Rio Hondo GC, Rio Hondo, Argentina 10.40pm*           Denzel Ieremia, Joseph Winslow, Andres Gallegos 4am      Louis Dobbelaar, Andreas Halvorsen, Ricardo Celia 4.10am Tim Stewart, José Toledo, Cristobal Del Solar

Defending champion: Alejandro Tosti Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Louis Dobbelaar

Challenge Tour SDC Open Zebula Golf Estate & Spa, Limpopo, South Africa 8.25pm*             Deyen Lawson, Pelle Edberg, Kyle Barker 8.45pm Daniel Hillier, Alex Haindl, Lorenzo Scalise

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Deyen Lawson

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