2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play PGA DFS Preview: Jason Day the Man to Beat

This week sees us head into Austin, Texas for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Despite the popularity of this event among fans, the PGA has taken this stop off the schedule for 2024, which means this season will likely be the final running of this event. The event is hosted by Austin Country Club, a Pete Dye-designed venue that plays at just over 7,100 yards in length as a par 71. The shorter course encourages aggressive play and there are plenty of risk-reward opportunities around the venue, making it a great host for the match play.

The shorter venue has catered to short game and putting specialists like Matt Kuchar and Kevin Kisner — a player who has managed to make the finals at this event in three of the past five seasons. As for how the event plays out, the WGC Match Play is run over five days with each player being put into a four-man group or pod. The round-robin format sees players go up against each other in singles competition with the best record getting to advance into the next round of the bracket. Ties are decided by sudden-death playoff holes after the last match on Friday.

For daily fantasy purposes, the name of the game this week is attempting to create optimal lineups by getting at least one player from each quadrant of the draw. The Stokastic ownership projections this week will again be a great tool to use for lineup building as getting access to potentially extremely low-owned players could land a big finish if they get through their pod or side of the draw.

Do not forget to check out the Stokastic PGA DFS projections, which has both scoring data and PGA DFS ownership projections. Stokastic PGA DFS projections come out on Monday and will be updated throughout the week.

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2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play DFS Preview

This event is a complete and welcome change up from the regular PGA Tour grind. The format may not be super popular among the pros, but for fans, there’s drama almost every day and lots of betting opportunities to wager on group winners, outrights and a massive board full of matches to pick from daily.

Despite it being a match-play format, the key to winning this event seems to be not so different from most regular stroke-play events. Players need a combo of experience and good to great recent form. Two of the last three winners had lost in the finals prior to grabbing a win at this event and 2021 winner Billy Horschel had played in the event multiple times prior (so he at least had experience in the format).

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Betting Trends

  • With Scheffler’s win last season, five of the last nine winners of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play had already won a stroke play event in the same calendar year as their win at the WGC Match Play
  • Since 2017 all but one of the winners of this event (Kisner in 2019), had already recorded a 2nd place or better (in the same calendar year) prior to winning

Below are some of the top players in the field to watch this week given their recent form and course history:

  1. Scottie Scheffler: Scheffler is following almost the same path to begin 2023, that he did in 2022. He’s coming off a win at THE PLAYERS and has made the finals at the match play the last two seasons.
  2. Sungjae Im: Im showcased a bit of a bump up in form at THE PLAYERS landing a 6th-place finish. The South Korean has finished outside the top 25 just once in his last seven starts.
  3. Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay had a solid weekend at THE PLAYERS and has finished top 20 now in four of his last six starts. He has strong Pete Dye stats and has been gaining massive strokes off the tee and on approach of late.
  4. Max Homa: Homa followed up a 14th-place finish at Bay Hill with a 6th at THE PLAYERS. With how well he’s playing, expect him to be a tough golfer to get over on in match play.
  5. Tyrrell Hatton: Hatton has finished 2nd and 4th in his last two starts. He’s bringing in red-hot form to a venue that should play well to his overall skillset.

Field Notes: As for now the main player skipping this event will be Justin Thomas. Thomas decided to skip this event as he’d never competed well at Austin and felt it was better to prepare for Augusta without this event on his schedule… Justin Suh is the last man qualified as of writing. His play dipped a little last week and he’s been playing a lot of golf thus far in 2023… Three-time finalist and 2019 winner Kevin Kisner is playing. He’s now finished 75th or worse in his last five starts.

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2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Past Winners and Winners Stats

2022: Scottie Scheffler (d. Kevin Kisner in finals)

  • Lead-in: win/7/win (had twice on the year prior to winning the Match Play)
  • Scheffler was on a tear heading into this event in 2022, having already won twice in the calendar year
  • Scheffler also had built up some good experience having reached the finals of this event the season prior
  • From a fit perspective, the 2020 Masters champion has also grabbed a win at TPC Sawgrass — another Pete Dye venue

2021: Billy Horschel (d. Scottie Scheffler in finals)

  • Lead in: 58/MC/2 (had recorded two top-10 finishes since the start of the year – including runner-up at WGC Mexico)
  • Horschel has a 13-7-2 lifetime record in match play singles
  • Like many of the past winners of this event, Horschel had built up some solid finishes already on the year, landing a runner-up three starts prior in Mexico

2019 (no event in 2020): Kevin Kisner (d. Matt Kuchar in finals)

  • Lead-in: 24/22/23, (had made nine cuts in a row heading into the event)
  • Kisner was the only one of the past five winners not to have recorded a top-5 finish in the year prior to winning
  • He had shown remarkably steady form and had also gained a ton of experience the year prior when he made the finals of this event and lost to Bubba Watson

Want to see who is trending as a strong play early? Check out Stokastic’s PGA DFS projections, which will be updated on Monday and throughout the week.

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2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Course Preview

Austin Country Club: Par 71, 7103 yards

Greens: Poa overseed

Designer: Pete Dye (1984), Rod Whitman (Reno – 2015)

Similar Courses: TPC Sawgrass, TPC Stadium, TPC Scottsdale

Austin Country Club is a shorter Par 71 that is set in a parkland setting. The venue does wind about some hillier sections of Austin and the two nines are set in entirely different locales, with the back nine offering flatter holes, more water, and more risk-reward types of opportunities.

The name of the game at Austin is similar to other Pete Dye-designed venues across the PGA and that is a premium on accuracy. Off the tee, the venue isn’t overly difficult and there will be opportunities for players to potentially pull out drivers and get aggressive by either driving greens or cutting corners on specific holes. The risk-reward nature of Austin off the tee for the pros is part of what makes it such a good design for this event.

With that in mind, it is worth noting that the players who have shown the most consistent kind of success at Austin Country Club are those who have a game built around gaining strokes with irons and on the greens. Pete Dye specialists like Kevin Kisner and Matt Kuchar have dominated this event at times, and Billy Horschel has a fantastic short game that plays extremely well at the funky Austin setup.

In terms of betting, weighing both fit and course experience feels necessary this week. The five-day event is grueling but since 2017 four of the past five winners have all been in their mid to late 30s. This week isn’t a power race or even necessarily a great week to chase youthful exuberance in the outright market. Veteran players trending well with iron and around-the-green play generally make for the best fit for both this event and Austin Country Club.

Key Stats: Strokes Gained Approach / Strokes Gained Around the Green / Approach Proximity (125 – 175 yards)

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2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Recent Form Watch

Top Strokes Gained Approach (Last 50 Rounds)

  • Tom Hoge
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Tony Finau
  • Rory McIlroy

Top Approach Proximity (Last 50 Rounds)

  • Tom Hoge
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Russell Henley
  • Justin Suh
  • Shane Lowry

Top Strokes Gained Around the Greens (Last 50 Rounds)

  • Jordan Spieth
  • Billy Horschel
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  • Seamus Power

2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Weather Forecast

Wednesday: 80-84 F, winds 9-13 mph/0% chance of precipitation

Thursday: 70-75 F, winds 10-14 mph/30-40% chance of precipitation (potential thunderstorms)

Friday: 78 F, winds 6-9 mph/20-30% chance of precipitation

Weekend: 82-84F, winds 5-8 mph/0% chance of precipitation

It is Texas and still early spring so expect the weather to be all over the place this week. The weekend forecast looks fantastic, which should bode well for the elite players who are capable of going low on a shorter course like Austin Country Club. Wednesday and Thursday’s forecasts have winds projected to be above 10mph which could be an advantage for the elite short-game specialists and putters. Assuming winds stay up, looking for cheaper or lower-owned players who have great around-the-green stats and scrambling percentages could be a way to differentiate or skillset stack for daily fantasy purposes this week.

Editor Note: Looking for other PGA best bets? OddsShopper’s shop pages allow you to find the lines and data you need to make your best PGA bet.

2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play DFS Picks and Betting Targets

Jason Day | BetMGM Outright

This event seems like a great spot for the inevitable Jason Day comeback win. He’s a two-time winner of the event (2014, 2016) and has won the WGC Match Play both in its old format (classic 64-man knockout structure) and new pod format (2016 at Austin Country Club). Day also fits the profile of Pete Dye specialist, having picked up a win and numerous top finishes at TPC Sawgrass, and he ranks 12th in strokes gained total at Pete Dye venues over the last 50 rounds of play.

This season has seen Day excel in nearly every statistical category at some point and his last start at Sawgrass saw him pick up over 6.0 strokes around the green and 3.0 strokes on approach. With some wind expected and GIR%’s likely lower than normal this week, he’ll be a hard person to beat in the match-play format and certainly has plenty of motivation given that he still sits at just 37 in the OWGR. Day will likely get plenty of attention this week so hitting him up for an outright bet early — before his opening odds drop — should be high on to-do lists on Monday.

Russell Henley | BetMGM Outright

Henley fits the profile of the kind of player to target at Austin Country Club. He has a solid Pete Dye track record with good results at TPC River Highlands and Harbour Town, and is also one of the best on tour on short to mid-iron approaches, making him hard to beat around a shorter venue like Austin. Henley’s had a slow start to 2023 but he seemed to find some form at the Players, gaining strokes on approach for the first time in three starts, and was uber consistent around the greens and off the tee.

Despite the lack of high finishes to this point, his approach game is the least worrisome part of his game (long-term) so he may not be that far off of finding his peak, given how well the other parts of his game are flowing. He’s come close once or twice to making a run at this event, and if he is in a weak pod or on a solid side of the bracket, he makes sense as a target for betting early on.

Geoff Ulrich

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