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WGC-Dell Match Play

Bryson DeChambeau in (for now), McIlroy and Mickelson out at WGC-Dell Match Play

Gregory Shamus

Bryson DeChambeau has gotten good at entering PGA Tour events of late. The question, though, remains when will he finally play in one again?

The former U.S. Open champion, who hasn’t competed on tour due to injury since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, was listed on Friday among the participants for next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play Championship. The elite 64-player field competing at Austin Country Club is filled by the top players off the World Ranking, where DeChambeau currently sits at 12th.

Whether DeChambeau actually plays in Austin is still unclear. The eight-time PGA Tour winner had previously signaled his return to the tour at this month’s the Arnold Palmer Invitational (where he was the defending champion) and at the Players Championship. Yet while he entered the field in both events, he withdrew days before the first round began in each.

“I don’t want to go out there and hurt myself even more and not be 100 percent ready for the rest of the season,” DeChambeau said in a video posted to social media when announcing he was skipping the API earlier this month. “I don’t want to come back early and then have to take more time off, so it’s a hard decision I have to make right now.”

When the WGC-Dell Match Play field was released on Friday, all but five eligible golfers among the top 64 players in the World Ranking had entered. Among the missing were Cameron Smith (No. 6). Rory McIlroy (7), Hideki Matsuyama (11), Harris English (22) and Phil Mickelson (45). Smith said after his victory at the Players Championship he’d miss match play to spend more time with family visiting from Australian for the first time since the COVID pandemic. Matsuyama (back) and English (hip) are out due to injuries. In his preparation for the Masters, McIlroy is taking the week off and will then be competing in the Valero Texas Open. Mickelson continues to be taking time away the game since his controversial comments surrounding the Saudi golf league and the PGA Tour last month.

Replacing the five are Sebastian Munoz, Keegan Bradley, Robert MacIntyre, Keith Mitchell and Sepp Straka.

DeChambeau last played at February’s Saudi Invitational, competing in the first round but then withdrawing before the second citing hand and hip injuries. When he missed the cut the previous week at the Farmers, he was noticeably holding his back and shaking his wrist. He also entered the field at the Sony Open early in January only to withdraw before the tournament began.

The format of WGC-Dell Match Play includes round-robin pod play where every golfer is competes in a match on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The player with the most points earned in his four-golfer pod then advances to a 16-player single-elimination match-play bracket that would include 36 holes of golf on Saturday and Sunday if the player reached the finals. The bracket with the 16 pods will be announced on Monday.

If DeChambeau were to withdraw, the first golfer on the alternate list is Maverick McNealy, No. 70 in the World Ranking.