A battle between childhood friends Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas highlights the 2016 WGC-Dell Match Play round-robin play.
Match-ups were drawn on Monday night in Austin, with the Spieth-Thomas pairing -- the two have been buds since representing the United States in the Evian Junior Masters in 2007 -- grabbing the most attention. Spieth, who enters the tournament as the No. 1 ranked player in the world, received no favors from his premiere standing. Aside from taking on Thomas, who is fifth in FedEx Cup points, Spieth faces a gauntlet of Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson.
Rory McIlroy, the event's defending champion, seems to have a more favorable journey to the weekend. McIlroy's group features Thorbjorn Olesen (who was an alternate for the event), Kevin Na (who hasn't finished inside the top 20 since January), and rookie Smylie Kaufman. Though McIlroy's six double-bogeys at Bay Hill may be cause for concern, it's worth noting the four-time major winner was 18 under in his other 66 holes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
US PGA TOUR
Speaking of Bay Hill, last week's winner Jason Day faces Paul Casey, Thongchai Jaidee and Graeme McDowell in the opening round. Other notable groups feature Presidents Cup partners Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes squaring off (with Patton Kizzire and Emiliano Grillo completing the quartet) and a foursome of Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and young guns Matthew Fitzpatrick and Daniel Berger.
The 2016 Match Play field consists of 16 round-robin groups. In this format, the top 16 players were placed in separate divisions. The rest of the 48 players were put in three pools (Nos. 17–32, Nos. 33–48, Nos. 49–64), with a golfer from each pool randomly drawn and slotted in one of the 16 groups.
Each player in the group faces the other three in an 18-hole match, which happens on Wednesday to Friday. On Saturday, the round of 16 and quarterfinals are conducted -- also 18 holes each -- with the final four and championship matches held on Sunday.
Visit the World Golf Championships website for the complete field.