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Day looking to defend WGC Matchplay in Texas

JASON Day has been at less than his best in 2017 but the two time former winner will be looking to bounce back at this week's WGC Matchplay.

THE WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Championship is one of two PGA Tour events this week but with more than three times the purse of its counterpart, and a field which includes all but five of the leading 64 players in the current world ranking, the WGC event can certainly and justifiably claim the limelight.

While the golf world’s attention will be firmly fixed on the Austin Country Club in Texas, the rest of the members of the world’s richest Tour will play the opposite field Puerto Rico Open.

Notable absentees from the US$9.75 million matchplay tournament, perhaps as a result of scheduling issues, are Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose.

These players perhaps feel they are better served to play next week’s Houston Open where they are guaranteed at least two rounds of competitive golf ahead of the Masters the following week.

Most of the game’s superstars are in the field, however, including two Australians in two-time winner, Jason Day, and the most recent winner on the PGA Tour, Marc Leishman.

Defending champion Day will look to join Tiger Woods as the only three-time winner of the event when he tees it up in round one.

The World Number Three he will be playing only his sixth event of 2017, and is currently playing below his best, but his penchant for match play could well assist him in kick starting his season.

Last year he defeated Louis Oosthuizen to win the title after accounting for Rory McIlroy in the semi final. In 2014 he overcame a stubborn Victor Dubuisson to win the event for the first time.


Day also finished third in the event in 2013 and on debut in 2011 made it to the round of 16 so really does enjoy the head to head battle.

Interestingly, despite Day's record, it is another Australian who has an even better one.

Geoff Ogilvy has won this event twice and finished runner-up on one other occasion although the 2006 US Open winner will not be in this week’s field as he is outside the qualifying criteria.

Leishman will be playing the event for just the fourth occasion, his round of 16 appearance two years ago his best effort to date.

The Victorian carries a lot of momentum into this week so his performance will be watched with interest ahead of a return to Augusta National.

World Number One, Dustin Johnson, is clearly playing well at present but he has generally struggled in this event having been knocked out in the first round in five of his eight appearances.

His best result was a quarter final appearance last year when defeated by the eventual runner-up Oosthuizen.

Rory McIlroy must start as one of the favourites if not the favourite this week. His impressive fourth place finish in Orlando last week suggests he is playing close to his best and he has been a winner, runner-up and fourth place finisher in this event in his eight previous starts.

His chances appear to be very good to continue, and perhaps even improve on, that record.

Hideki Matsuyama leads the 2017 FedEx Cup standings and has played reasonably well in his previous three starts in the WGC Match Play Championship.

He made it to the round of 16 in 2015 and has made it past round one in his other two appearances.

Jordan Spieth has made it to the quarters and the round of 16 in two of his three appearances in the event and is in the middle of a very consistent run of form.

His Texan background might assist if things get windy as they can sometimes do in the region so look for him to be a factor.

The volatility of 18 hole match play contests, where the leading 64 available players from the world ranking do battle, can throw up some interesting results at any stage of the week.

Any one of those in the field is capable of beating any other on any given day and, to a large extent, that is one of the attractions of the event.

There are often David and Goliath match-ups, some of the most notable including Australians where both Peter O’Malley and Nick O’hern have defeated Tiger Woods at his peak in earlier years.


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