Thanks to a brand new format, there will be a full complement of the world’s top 64 players for the opening three days of the WGC Cadillac Matchplay, before the cream of the crop battle it out over the weekend.
Replacing the one-on-one sudden death nature of the event, won by Jason Day in 2014, is a new pools format where the top 16 in the world rankings are joined by three other randomly selected players.
Each golfer in the group gets three matches, one each against the others. Overall records then establish who advances to the round of 16, which begins the traditional knockout phase over the weekend.
The playing field is somewhat levelled by the event moving venue for the first time in eight years, but one element will remain constant; some players simply relish the heat of battle.
Here are three men tipped to reign supreme over the top seeds in their individual pools in Calafornia.
Thanks to regaining full fitness, one of the best smiles in golf has been back on Oosthuizen’s face of late, as the South African’s game is nearing its Masters-winning best again.
Clearly, Bubba is the big obstacle here, but with top 15s in his previous WGC events this season and coming off six sub 70 rounds at the RBC Heritage which landed him a tie for seventh, Oosthuizen is shaping up to be a contender.
He showed his metal in this tournament last year as well, going 3-1 to take a share of fifth.
With two wins under his belt already this season Walker will be a force in this foursome, though unlike his main rival in this uber-tough group, he only garnered one Ryder Cup point at Gleneagles.
Such is the strength of Poulter’s Matchplay resume that the 2010 champion is the only man in the betting to see his odds level with the top seed.
Crucially, Europe’s Ryder Cup talisman has been in hot form of late too, turning in four consecutive top 25s, including a tied sixth at Augusta National.
The bravest shout of the three considering the company, but the one which could offer most reward is Henley, the third favourite in his group featuring recent Shell Open winner and world number 12, Holmes.
Tied for 17th as a rookie at this event in 2013, following on from strong mathchplay showings as an amateur, Henley has since made a real impact on the PGA Tour winning events in his first two seasons.
It is Henley’s standing with the flat stick this season which really marks him out here though.
The Georgia state native, who finished 21st at the Masters, ranks 12th on the PGA Tour in strokes-gained putting and second in total putting.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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