Here’s an early-bird opportunity for West Virginia bettors.
In between dribbles of the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight matchups lies a unique PGA match-play event.
It’s the Dell Technologies tournament, conducted with a new start date, Wednesday, and going through until Sunday.
The first tier of gambling has no risk, yet has the look, feel and execution of a March Madness bracket. Sixty-four players, a countdown to a single champion and one-on-one matchups. Sound familiar?
The World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play Bracket Challenge is a free bracket-style game that lets registered users test their PGA Tour knowledge by picking who they believe will be the winners in each matchup during the five-day event.
Go to fantasybracket.pgatour.com and follow the instructions. No purchase is necessary.
The second tier of gambling has the classic menu bettors are familiar with. But because this is a field of 64 narrowed down via match play, there is a top-four betting menu at DraftKings Sportsbook WV rather than the top five, top 10 and top 20 offered at the start of other tournaments.
WGC Dell Technologies odds at WV sportsbooks
The online sportsbook shows the following odds for the start of the event.
Jon Rahm is the favorite at +1100. He is +225 to finish in the top four. Following Rahm are:
- Justin Thomas +1200, +225
- Viktor Hovland +1400, +275
- Scottie Scheffler +1600, +350
- Collin Morikawa +1600, +330
- Dustin Johnson +2000, +450
- Patrick Cantlay +2200, +500
- Daniel Berger +2800, +650
Defending champion Billy Horschel headlines a group of players at +3000 to win and +700 for the top four.
The list includes Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen.
The starting time may sneak up on some Mountain State bettors. But anyone missing the beginning can look for updated odds during each round and individual matchups in the ensuing days.
Betting on PGA match-play events
This is a departure from the typical way people view and gamble on golf about 95% of the time.
It’s one on one, not one versus the field. Individual 18-hole matchups ultimately pare the field down to a champion, just like the NCAA basketball matchups do, only in five days.
The field starts with the top 64 players from the Official World Golf Rankings 10 days before the event.
If anyone within the top is not available, the next highest-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings fills the field.
How to watch the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play
- Wednesday-Friday: opening rounds, Golf Channel (2-8 p.m.)
- Saturday: Round of 16, Golf Channel (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), Quarterfinals, NBC (2-6 p.m.)
- Sunday: Semifinals, Golf Channel (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), NBC (3-7 p.m.)
This is a refreshing change of pace, much like the skins tournament, for the yearlong tour.
WGC Dell Technologies format
The tournament unfolds in two phases.
In the first phase, players split into 16 groups of four players. Each group has a player seeded 1–16, 17–32, 33–48 and 49–64.
Each group then plays in a round-robin format over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. One point is awarded for a win and a half-point for a tie, with only the group winner qualifying for the next round.
If two or more players are tied at the top of the group, there is a sudden-death, stroke-play tiebreaker played to decide who progresses.
By the end of Friday, one winner will emerge from all 16 groups, comprising the weekend lineup.
The second phase is played as a knockout tournament, with the round of 16 and quarterfinals played on Saturday and the semifinal, third-place playoff and final played on Sunday.
All matches are played over 18 holes.
How match play differs from stroke play for bettors
So, you bet Jon Rahm and he blows up with a double bogey? No big deal.
In stroke-play scoring, that two-stroke drop could drop him from the top 10 to outside of the top 20. But for match play, it’s a small slice of the matchup, and thus, he can recover. It’s only one hole.
Furthermore, one directly benefits if his opponent stumbles. That would only matter in stroke play if it was the final round and this was his opponent.
Most matches in the knockout round end inside of 18 holes.
A point is awarded for winning a hole. When a player leads by more than the number of holes remaining, the match is over.
Tiger Woods has won this tournament three times and holds a record margin of victory in 2006. He was up nine holes with eight holes remaining, meaning he notched the statistical improbability of not losing a single hole in the entire match.
How does this strategy affect the players?
Players can take a conservative approach if they believe an opponent has landed in trouble off the tee. A player may seek a par rather than gamble for a birdie, which he would otherwise do in stroke play.