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WGC Match Play picks 2022: The sneaky match-play stud our experts love

March 22, 2022
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MARCH 10: Alex Noren of Sweden punches out of the rough at the second hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 10, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In retrospect, none of our experts being on Sam Burns last week seems like a major miss. Not only was he the defending champion at Valspar, but he was playing great on the Florida swing and he had some solid odds pre-tournament. Oh well. You live and you learn.

It’s about time we hit another winner (0-fer since Riviera), which will be no small feat at the WGC Match Play, one of the most unique events in golf for both the competitors and those of us who wager on the sport each week. Outrights will be particularly challenging considering your selections might not make it out of the group stage.

If that scares you off this event, don’t let it. There are still ample betting opportunities with matchups each day, group winners, and more. Our expert panel, which consists of an anonymous caddie reporting live from Austin Country Club; Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network/DraftKings; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports and your two authors, will attempt to steer you in the right direction in Texas.

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 WGC Match Play.

WGC Match Play picks 2022: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Patrick Cantlay (22-1, DraftKings) — Cantlay’s been too quiet lately—he’s due to lift another trophy after that hot stretch at the end of last season. He had that great run of events in January … he could show up and win this, and you’re getting him at a significant discount compared to the other favorites.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Xander Schauffele (20-1, DraftKings) — Predicting who is going to win a pod is difficult enough, so let’s at least go with the favorite to escape his own group. Xander’s draw is the weakest in the group stage, and his game actually fits this course quite nicely. Despite his lack of results, he’s still the top player in the field from 125 yards and in with proximity, and putts well enough to sustain an off round or two.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Daniel Berger (29-1, FanDuel) — I like the draw for Berger against Tyrrell Hatton, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, and Si Woo Kim. Berger’s been pretty weak at the Match Play setup, but I can’t imagine that’s super predictive, and you can’t really compare past Berger to current Berger. He’s better than the odds suggest right now.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Patrick Cantlay (22-1, DraftKings) — Cantlay offers the complete package for this week. His calm demeanor, well-rounded game and ability to catch fire with the putter are three of the most dangerous attributes to have when it comes to match play. He’s already the best player in this field over the last 50 rounds, gaining 1.82 strokes per round per the RickRunGood.com golf database, and he’s going to be a nightmare to compete against.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Justin Thomas (16-1, PointsBet) — JT knows he’s close. On a course where off-the-tee can be a separator, his insane ball-striking should spur him to a run here. He rises to the occasion in match play—whether it’s the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. That might be the spark he needs to get that putter hot.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Will Zalatoris (50-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Zalatoris has been on an off-the-tee tear and the irons will always be there. Of course, it’s the putter that needs to cooperate, especially in this format. But I trust him on longer birdie putts that he can be aggressive with. However, whoever is playing him each day should make him putt out every single so-called “tap-in” or “gimme.” That, obviously, terrifies me, but between his odds, his Texas roots (Zalatoris was born in Cali but grew up and still lives in Texas), and the fact he’s going to break through any week now, I cannot stay away.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Dustin Johnson (22-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — DJ knows exactly how to win a WGC Match Play, having taken down the 2017 Dell Match Play. He comes into this event ranked second for SG/total on similar courses to Austin Country Club. One of the main reasons for this is his excellent putting on fast, Bermuda greens over the last two years. His current form is excellent too, having finished top 10 in half of his last 12 events.

Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Christopher Powers nailing Scottie Scheffler’s win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at 29-1 and then backing it up with Joaquin Niemann at 60-1 to win at Riviera. A few weeks earlier, Pat Mayo correctly predicted Luke List’s victory at Torrey Pines at 70-1. Rick Gehman also hit Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship in the fall, as well as Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.

WGC Match Play picks 2022: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Jordan Spieth (35-1, DraftKings) — If there’s an event for Spieth to get right, this could be it. It’s in Austin … it’s a shorter course where short game can shine. I wouldn’t be surprised if Spieth makes a run.

Mayo: Adam Scott (50-1, DraftKings) — Since Spieth has been reeling in 2022, Scott is actually the best on paper player in his group. Fortunately, the odds don’t reflect that, and you can get him almost double the odds of Spieth.

Gdula: Alex Noren (55-1, FanDuel) — I’ve got Noren ranked higher over the past six months than his seed suggests he should be. Though his group is one of the more balanced draws, he’s done well at this setup with two top-five results and an 8-1-0 record in the group stage.

Gehman: Alex Noren (55-1, FanDuel) — It’s clear that Noren has a tough draw in Group 19 with Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey and Corey Conners but I still love the way he sets up for this event. His 2022 improvements with his irons have spurred great results. Now he heads to the Match Play where he’s a staggering 12-3 in just three years at this event. That’s the same number of points won by Dustin Johnson at this event, but Johnson has played two more years.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sebastian Munoz (130-1, DraftKings) — He’s got some of the longest odds in this field—and one of the toughest draws in the same group as Jon Rahm—but watch out for Munoz. He’s in the top 12 in this elite field in three big metrics this week: SG/off the tee; SG/approach and birdie or better gained in the past 36 rounds, per Fantasy National. I’ll be looking to bet him in match ups, and if he can get out of his pod, he might be dangerous.

Powers, Golf Digest: Alex Noren (55-1, FanDuel) — Welp, if you peek above, I don’t have to do much more selling on the Swede. I guess all I’ll add is he made that sick putt in the 2018 Ryder Cup. Match-play gawd.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Russell Henley (50-1, BetMGM) — Henley comes into this event ranked 11th for SG/total over the last two years and seventh for SG/total over the last two months so he has both the long- and short-term form. Henley, ranked 39th in the world, has not finished outside of the top 33 in his last eight events.

WGC Match Play picks 2022: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (16-1, DraftKings) — He’s playing great, but it’s tough enough to go back to back at any event … let alone a match-play tournament.

Mayo: Louis Oosthuizen (30-1, DraftKings) — I actually quite like Louis in this format, but his outright odds haven’t taken into consideration that he must get out of what might be the most difficult group top-to-bottom. And from there he may still need to get through Xander and Morikawa just to make the final four, two matchups where he’d be the underdog. Good player. Wrong price.

Gdula: Patrick Cantlay (20-1, FanDuel) — My numbers show Cantlay with the toughest group draw of any of the favorites. I’m usually on his side, but with that, I’ll be looking elsewhere this week.

Gehman: Scottie Scheffler (16-1, DraftKings) — Scheffler is firing on all cylinders and he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel last season, so why the concern? His group! A horrendous draw for Scheffler in Group 5 sticks him with Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter. If he can somehow escape the group, he’s on a collision course with the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Daniel Berger, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson and more. This could be one of the most difficult paths to the finals of any top-rated golfer.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jordan Spieth (35-1, DraftKings) — It’s gotta be all about peaking for Augusta right now for Spieth … this is an easy event in his home state that he can use as a way to get his game back, but I wouldn’t expect him to go on a run.

Powers, Golf Digest: Jon Rahm (12-1, DraftKings) —Far too volatile a format to back a big favorite like Rahm, especially with the putter going cold of late.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jon Rahm (12-1, DraftKings) — It’s never wise to back the favorite in this type of format, especially when said favorite has been struggling with the putter all season. Rahm’s tee-to-green golf has been good but the putter is letting him down week-in week-out at the minute. You can’t win a WGC Match Play with a cold putter.

WGC Match Play picks 2022: Day 1 Matchups

Caddie: Takumi Kanaya (+220) over Xander Schauffele (Bet365) — We see a couple massive favorites lose in group play every year. Kanaya is a good player, and though Xander should win this, it’s golf and it’s 18 holes … you’re better off taking the massive underdogs in these type of matchups.

Mayo: Kevin Na (+115) over Russell Henley (DraftKings) — Yes, Na has been off on paternity leave the past few weeks, but he’s a killer in this format at this specific course. It’s the little things he does like making a player putt out or playing incredibly slow that just shakes his opponent. I don’t think Henley is up to the task.

Gdula: Tom Hoge (+110) over Thomas Pieters (FanDuel) — Hoge has a pretty big advantage in the iron department right now, and with all else being fairly equal, I’ll side with him in this one.

Gehman: Jason Kokrak (+105) over Sergio Garcia (DraftKings) — Garcia is well-deserving of being the favorite in this matchup based on his excellent match-play experience, however, Kokrak as the underdog is too good to pass up. Kokrak will be able to lean on the longest club in his bag, the driver, and the shortest club in his bag, the putter. He’s excellent in both facets of the game and that will apply plenty of pressure to Garcia.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sergio Garcia (-125) over Jason Kokrak (DraftKings) — I’ll take the other side against Rick (above). Kokrak has one foot out the door to Saudi, and taking the experienced match-play competitor in Sergio is the prudent play here. I’ll look to fade Kokrak in each of his match ups.

Powers, Golf Digest: Richard Bland (+150) over Bryson DeChambeau (DraftKings) — I think fading Bryson could prove to be very profitable this week. That starts Wednesday with Dick Bland, who will no doubt relish the opportunity to stun one of the top-ranked Americans. We have no idea where Bryson’s health or game is at, not to mention his abysmal match-play record.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Cameron Young (-105) over Patrick Reed (DraftKings) — Reed is struggling right now. He ranks sixth-to-last in the field this week for SG/total over the last two months. This has resulted in him missing three of his last four cuts. Young on the other hand is on fire. He ranks fourth in the field for SG/total over the last two months and first for Opportunities Gained.

Matchup Results from the Valspar Championship: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Pereira (-110) over Griffin); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Thomas (+100) over Hovland); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Fleetwood (+112) over Ancer); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Bradley (+105) over Ancer); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Schauffele (-137) over Hatton); Hennessey: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 14-3-4 (up 10.17 units); Powers: 13-6-2 (up 6.66 units); Caddie: 12-7-2 (up 4.68 units); Alldrick: 10-10-1 (down 1.59 units); Gdula: 9-12-0 (down 3.45 units); Gehman: 7-11-3 (down 4.48 units); Hennessey: 9-11-1 (down 4.91 units)

WGC Match Play picks 2022: Best bet to win their group

Caddie: Louis Oosthuizen (+200, DraftKings) — This group is truly anyone’s to win … these guys are all pretty even. Oostie has been playing more and more golf, so he should be cooking at this point. And he’s had nice success in this event. His putter can get hotter than any of these guys’, so I’ll take the nice number on him.

Mayo: Xander Schauffele, Group 7 (+120, DraftKings) — Unless Tony Finau gets resurrected from the dead, Xander must top the weakest competition of the 16 grounds, and is still getting almost 2-1 to prevail. It’s not that Finau, Lucas Herbert or Takumi Kanaya can’t win, it’s just that their odds to do so are severely diminished against Xander.

Gdula: Talor Gooch, Group 9 (+220, FanDuel) — I honestly like Gooch as a longshot, but I feel safer going with him to win this group, which rates out as the weakest group for me. DeChambeau’s coming back from injury, and Westwood and Bland aren’t on Gooch’s level right now.

Gehman: Tom Hoge, Group 12 (+250, DraftKings) — Hoge is in a group with the defending champion, Billy Horschel, but it’s still probably one of the weaker groups in the entire bracket. Thomas Pieters and Min Woo Lee round out the pod and Hoge has been playing excellent golf. Over the last 50 rounds, he’s gaining 1.27 strokes per round – the 10th-best mark in this field.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Talor Gooch, Group 9 (+220, FanDuel) — I’m echoing Gdula’s sentiments here—I gave Gooch out as my best bet on the Be Right podcast this week. He’s got a favorable draw, and he’s someone who can get real hot with the putter—an absolute weapon in match play.

Powers, Golf Digest: Seamus Power, Group 4 (+330, DraftKings) — AIt doesn’t seem that outlandish to say that Power is the best player in this group right this very second. And yet, he’s being priced as the biggest underdog. Cantlay’s irons have been a mess recently and Sungjae Im has struggled since a top 10 at Torrey. Keith Mitchell definitely scares me since he’s playing well and this course suits him, but I’ll stick with the Irishman, who bounced back after three straight MCs with a 33rd at the Players, where he gained over five strokes off-the-tee.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Xander Schauffele, Group 7 (+120, DraftKings) — Schauffele’s group competitors (Tony Finau, Lucas Herbert, Takumi Kanaya) rank 57th, 54th, and 51st of the 64-man field for SG/total over the last two months. Schauffele on the other hand ranks 21st. He also ranks 12th for SG/putting on fast, Bermuda greens so he’s going to be a tough man to beat in Group 7.

Top-10 results from the Valspar Championship: Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Brian Harman +700); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 8 for 21 (up 29.25 units); Alldrick: 5 for 21 (up 16.5 units); Gehman: 4 for 21 (down 0.3 units); Mayo: 2 for 21 (down 3.45 units); Hennessey: 4 for 21 (down 5.53 units); Caddie: 5 for 21 (down 6.75 units); Gdula: 1 for 21 (down 17.6 units)

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long- and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio.) Mayo (@ThePME) was named 2021 Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writing Association, while also being a finalist for Podcast of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year. Mayo won the 2020 FSWA Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award in 2020. He was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.