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WGC-Match Play preview: What to know for final stop in Austin

Ben Jared / PGA TOUR / Getty

It's the end of an era on the PGA TOUR this week as the final version of the WGC-Match Play at Austin Country Club takes place.

The only event on the annual calendar that isn't in stroke-play format is falling by the wayside next season with the World Golf Championship events being abolished. That makes this year's tournament extra special as we bid adieu to one of the most exciting formats in golf.

The 64-man field is broken into 16 groups of four, and the top golfer from each pool advances after three matches.

When: March 22-26
Where: Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas

How to watch

Day Time (ET) Channel
March 22 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. GOLF
March 23 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. GOLF
March 24 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. GOLF
March 25 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. GOLF
12 p.m. - 6 p.m. NBC
March 26 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. GOLF
3 p.m. - 7 p.m. NBC

The field

The 64-player field comes from the top 78 in the Official World Golf Rankings, with Justin Suh the final name to qualify on the tee sheet. Eight of the top-nine golfers in the world are teeing it up at the tournament. Justin Thomas and Justin Rose are the only golfers eligible for the event who decided not to play.

Nine LIV Golf players would be eligible based on OWGR but aren't in attendance due to their suspensions from the PGA TOUR. LIV's creation significantly changed the field from last year, as 21 players from the 64-man event in 2022 opted to join the rival circuit.

The groups are broken up by OWGR. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler leads Group 1, Jon Rahm tops Group 2, and Rory McIlroy is the first name in Group 3.

Notable groups

Scheffler, the defending champion at the event, enters as World No. 1 and fresh off his win at the Players Championship. There's no hotter golfer, but the Texan's group is far from easy this week. Tom Kim, who lit up the Presidents Cup last year in match-play format, makes his first start in the event. Alex Noren, the owner of an absurd 12-5 match-play record in Austin, is the third player in the pool, while Davis Riley rounds out the group. Scheffler and Riley have a history in the match-play format, as the two faced off for the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur. Scheffler won the final four holes of the 36-hole match to claim the title.

Rahm's group also won't make anything easy on the Spaniard, with 2021 champion Billy Horschel waiting in the final match of the round robin. Add Keith Mitchell and the resurgent Rickie Fowler, and Group 2 could be a barn burner.

Group 5 features Max Homa, one of the hottest players on the planet, alongside Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama. Add Suh and Kevin Kisner - a man with an outrageous 22-7-1 record at Austin Country Club - and all the makings for the Group of Death are there.

Last year's result

Ben Jared / PGA TOUR / Getty

It's safe to say Scheffler feels very comfortable around Austin Country Club. One year after losing to Horschel in the final, the Texas alum claimed the title with some remarkable play in his last two matches. Scheffler never trailed during his semifinal win over Dustin Johnson or in the championship match against Kisner - going the final 57 holes without falling behind.

Previous winners at Austin Country Club

2022 - Scottie Scheffler
2021 - Billy Horschel
2020 - Event canceled
2019 - Kevin Kisner
2018 - Bubba Watson
2017 - Dustin Johnson
2016 - Jason Day

The course

Ben Jared / PGA TOUR / Getty

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Pete Dye design is one of the quirkiest on the PGA TOUR schedule. Austin Country Club is a 7,108-yard, par-71 course set out by the legendary designer, and it contains plenty of risk-reward holes that are perfect for match play. This will be the sixth time the Texas club has hosted the event, which has seen different golf styles come out on top. The club - originally founded in 1899 - took over from the previous tournament host in 2016.

Betting corner

Scottie Scheffler +800
Jon Rahm +1,100
Rory McIlroy +1,200
Patrick Cantlay +1,600
Collin Morikawa +2,200
Jordan Spieth +2,200
Max Homa +2,200
Xander Schauffele +2,200
Tyrrell Hatton +2,200
Viktor Hovland +2,500
Matthew Fitzpatrick +2,800
Tony Finau +2,800
Will Zalatoris +2,800

Odds via theScore Bet

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