23 Mar 2021 | Professional golf |

Tough WGC draw for Smith

by Martin Blake

Cam Smith matchplay image
Cam Smith will face Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter. Photo: Getty

Cameron Smith has a tough draw at the World Golf Championship’s Dell Matchplay event beginning in Texas tomorrow.

The Queenslander, ranked No. 27 in the world, has two European Ryder Cup heroes to go head-to-head against after he begins his campaign against American Lanto Griffin at Austin Country Club in the round-robin games.

Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and matchplay expert Ian Poulter are Smith’s other opponents, with only the winner of the four-man group progressing to the next phase on Saturday.

The 64 players break into 16 groups with the 16 winners beginning a knockout section at that point.

Smith won his group at the last playing of this event in 2018, and went to the quarter-finals after he beat Tyrrell Hatton in the round of 16, then lost to Sweden’s Alex Noren.

If the Presidents Cup – where he beat Justin Thomas in singles – is any indication, matchplay appears to suit Smith, who was runner-up in the Masters last year.

The other Australians have decent chances of getting through their groups, although there are no free tickets in the $US10.5 million event. Marc Leishman, who has been out of sorts recently, has drawn Korean gun Sungjae Im, France’s Victor Perez and American Russell Henley.

Jason Day has Americans Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and England’s Andy Sullivan to contend with. He won this tournament in 2016 at the same venue. Adam Scott was qualified for the WGC but has declined to play. GROUP STAGE (with seedings in brackets) Group 1 Dustin Johnson (1), Kevin Na (34), Robert MacIntyre (41),Adam Long (61) Group 2 Justin Thomas (2), Louis Oosthuizen (22), Kevin Kisner (34), Matt Kuchar (52) Group 3 Jon Rahm (3), Ryan Palmer (24), Shane Lowry (38), Sebastian Munoz (56) Group 4 Collin Morikawa (4), Billy Horschel (32), Max Homa (35), J.T. Poston (63) Group 5 Bryson DeChambeau (5), Tommy Fleetwood (21), Si Woo Kim (45), Antoine Rozner (58) Group 6 Xander Schauffele (6), Scottie Scheffler (30), Jason Day (44), Andy Sullivan (57) Group 7 Patrick Reed (7), Joaquin Niemann (26), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (33), Bubba Watson (55) Group 8 Tyrrell Hatton (8), Lee Westwood (18), Sergio Garcia (39), Matt Wallace (51) Group 9 Webb Simpson (9), Paul Casey (17), Mackenzie Hughes (48), Talor Gooch (59) Group 10 Patrick Cantlay (10), Hideki Matsuyama (23), Carlos Ortiz (42), Brian Harman (54) Group 11 Rory McIlroy (11), Cameron Smith (25), Lanto Griffin (46), Ian Poulter (60) Group 12 Tony Finau (12), Jason Kokrak (29), Will Zalatoris (40), Dylan Frittelli (64) Group 13 Viktor Hovland (13), Abraham Ancer (27), Bernd Wiesberger (43), Kevin Streelman (53) Group 14 Daniel Berger (14), Harris English (19), Brendon Todd (47), Erik van Rooyen (62) Group 15 Matt Fitzpatrick (15), Matthew Wolff (20), Corey Conners (37), Jordan Spieth (49) Group 16 Sungjae Im (16), Victor Perez (31), Marc Leishman (36), Russell Henley (50)

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