Golf’s own version of March Madness gets underway at Austin Country Club this week, as the best in the world battle in out in the bracket-style tournament that is the WGC-Dell Match Play. 59 of the top 64 ranked golfers will be in attendance, while Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten, Keegan Bradley and Luke List will replace Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson to fill out the field.
Television coverage is as follows: Wednesday-Friday on Golf Channel (10:15 a.m.-4 p.m. ET), Saturday on Golf Channel (10 a.m.-2 p.m. ET) and NBC (2-6 p.m), and Sunday on Golf Channel (10 a.m.-2 p.m. ET) and NBC (3-7 p.m. ET). If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch a live stream of both Golf Channel and NBC on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live television channels, including both NBC (live in select markets) and Golf Channel. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of Golf Channel or NBC on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
FuboTV: NBC (live in select markets) and Golf Channel are both included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch live on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app.
DirecTV Now: NBC (live in select markets) is included in all four channel packages, while Golf Channel is in the “Go Big” and “Gotta Have It” bundles. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch NBC or Golf Channel live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Note: In addition to being able to watch Golf Channel and NBC live via the above streaming services, you can also watch on your computer via NBCSports.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the NBC Sports app. You’ll need to sign in to a TV provider to watch this way, but you can use your Hulu, DirecTV Now, FuboTV or Sling TV credentials to do that.
PGA Tour Live: You can also watch Wednesday through Friday action (featured groups and featured holes) via PGA Tour Live, which costs $5.99 per month or $39.99 per year. After signing up, you can then watch on your computer via PGATourLive.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the PGA Tour Live app.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who has finished in the Top 16 in every start this year and most recently tallied a T7 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, is the defending champ. He beat Jimmy Walker, Martin Kaymer and Webb Simpson in group play last year, then proceeded to roll through Zach Johnson (5 & 4), Alex Noren (3 & 2) and Hideto Tanihara (1 Up) before taking down then rookie Jon Rahm (1 Up) in the final.
But it’s neither Johnson (+800) nor Rahm (+1400) who is the oddsmakers’ favorite this week. Rory McIlroy, fresh off putting an end to his year-plus winless streak with an impressive triumph at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is favored slightly (+750) ahead of Johnson. He flamed out in the group stage last year, but he won here in 2015, and if he plays anything like he did over the weekend, when he fired a Sunday 64 and went five-under on the last six holes to win, there’s no one in the world who can match him.
In addition to Johnson and McIlroy, there are three other past winners in the field: Jason Day (2016 and 2014), Matt Kuchar (2013) and Ian Poulter (2010). Day, who withdrew from last year’s event to be with his mother who was undergoing cancer treatment, is a career 21-7 in match play. Throw in a win, a runner-up and five Top-25’s in five starts this season, and it’s no wonder to see him among the favorites (+1400).
Other top contenders include Justin Thomas, the defending Player of the Year who has risen to world No. 2 with a win and a playoff runner-up in his last two starts, and Jordan Spieth, who has had a roller-coaster start to the season but will be looking to get back on track with the Masters on the horizon.
Of course, with such a deep field and a format such as match play, anyone is capable of making a deep run in Austin this week. As always, it should be one of the more entertaining–and Madness-filled–tournaments of the year.
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