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Preview: WGC-Cadillac Match Play at TPC Harding Park

Preview – WGC-Cadillac Match Play – TPC HardingPark – San Francisco, California –

New format. New venue. New hope.  This week features the World Golf Championship – Cadillac Match Play and 64 players covering more than 100 matches.

The WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship moved from Arizona’s Dove Mountain Golf Club to San Francisco this week with TPC Harding Park hosting.

The par 71 layout reaching more than 7,100 yards and will demand some Fairways in Regulation and hot putting to reward victories. Justin Rose, the champion last week at the Zurich Classic, opens the event at 9:50 a.m. local time against Marc Leishman.

The event begins Wednesday under a new format. The 64 players have been split into 16 groups of four players. The four-player pool with play each other Wednesday through Friday in round-robin play – guaranteeing each player three matches. The top record in each pool advances to the Sweet 16 and single-eliminating beginning Saturday.

Saturday will feature the Sweet 16 in the morning session and the Final Eight in the afternoon. Sunday hosts the semi-finals followed by the Championship and Consolation matches.

The Golf Channel has coverage all week with NBC Sports handling the headline matches on the weekend.

2014 Results:

  • Jason Day outlasted Victor Dubuisson on the 5th extra hole to capture the title at Dove Mountain. Day knocked out Bubba Watson along the way. Jordan Spieth, making his first appearance, went through to the quarterfinals before losing to Ernie Els 4&2. The one-and-done format claimed big names early including Dustin Johnson.

Phil Mickelson (withdrew for personal reasons) and Tiger Woods (failed to qualify) are both sitting this one out.

Some of Wednesday’s opening-round featured matches:

  • Ian Poulter against Webb Simpson (10:20 a.m.)
  • Bubba Watson against Miguel Angel Jimenez (1:10 p.m.)
  • Louis Oosthuizen against Keegan Bradley (1:20 p.m.)

FANTASY: It’s a shootout. Americans have captured this title only three times since 2006 (Woods, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan). Avoid Henrik Stenson, who keeps fighting a flu bug after starting off hot this season. Pool Play will most likely produced better-ranked players advancing to the Sweet 16—instead of the one-and-done format of season’s past. Mahan won the title in 2012 and was runner-up in 2013 to Kuchar. But, both are in the same pool this week. Best to avoid the two to be safe and select an international-born player like Ian Poulter (2010 champion). Consider Hideki Matsuyama (No. 16 seed), who has six Top 10s on the PGA Tour this season and was 5th at the Masters.

BETTORS: The week features daily betting options in Group Pool. But for the overall week, Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day are co-betting favorites at www.skybet.com at 10-to-1 odds. Take Day, who was T-4 last week in New Orleans and has a 14-3 record in this event in four tries – all at Dove Mountain. He has Final 4 appearances the last two seasons. For better odds, consider Paul Casey at 40-1. The Englishman has a solid match play history (16 wins) and enters this week in good form. Poulter, at 33-1, won this title in 2010 and has been a Ryder Cup match play guru for years. He was sixth at The Masters and T-3 at the Honda this spring. Wager on World No. 10 Sergio Garcia at 25-1. He’s due for a break-out title this season.

Other Golf News:

  • Only one No. 1 overall seed – Tiger Woods – has every won the WGC-Cadillac Match Play. McIlroy is this week overall No. 1 seed.
  • Dustin Johnson has a history of opening-round exits at this event, when held in Arizona in the desert. His form is great heading into this week with a victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral and several near misses. His pool includes Dubuisson, Charl Schwartzel and Matt Jones.
  • Casey, who is in the pool with Adam Scott, Chris Kirk and Francisco Molinari, was runner-up in the match play in 2009 and 2010.
  • Calvin Peete, a former PLAYERS Champion, passed away at age 71. Peete led the PGA Tour in Driving Distance for 10 consecutive years in his prime.