Is your NCAA bracket busted? Have you thrown away money after but a single weekend of March Madness? And, do you feel even more despair because your UGA Men’s Basketball team couldn’t qualify even for the NIT and is losing players to the transfer portal faster than Mark Few to double-digit conference wins?
Then have we got the solution for you! A 64 entry tournament bracket, filled with Georgia Bulldogs, several who are favored to advance, and twice winners of the whole shebang! That, my Big Dance friends, is a bracket I can get behind.
Tournament: World Golf Championships - Dell Technologies Match Play. March 24-28, 2021
Course: Austin Country Club, par 71, 7,108 yards
Purse: $10,500,000 total, and $1,800,000 to the winner
Defending Champ: Georgia’s own Kevin Kisner. From the 2019 version, as last spring’s 2020 version was canceled due to the pandemic. Kisner had lost in the finals the previous year to Bubba Watson, and used that to fuel a beautiful run through the first round and into the finals, defeating Georgia Tech alum and former champion Matt Kuchar.
Fun Fact: In the early years of this relatively new tournament, it was held at Dove Mountain outside Tucson. And one year it started snowing during the final two days, enough that it stuck to the fairways and greens for a bit. Having moved to Austin CC the last 5 years, the weather is a little more predictable.
TV Times: Wednesday-Friday, 2-8 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-7 p.m. (NBC).
‘Dawgs in the Field: 6. Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner, Russell Henley, Bubba Watson, Harris English, and Brendon Todd. Not bad to have 10% of the field, pretty close to the top 64 players in the world, be former Georgia Bulldogs.
The top 16 players are spread amongst 16 different pods, or foursomes. The other three players are taken from similar seedings/tiers based on world rankings. Round robin play for 18 holes each within those four Wednesday through Friday will produce someone with the best record (or a sudden death playoff if two are tied). This moves into the knockout rounds with the advancing 16 players facing off Saturday morning, then an “elite eight” quarterfinal Saturday afternoon.
As you can imagine, the “final four” square off Sunday morning with the winners advancing to a Sunday afternoon final. The nature of match play means putts will be conceded, or even holes if a player knocks one out of bounds or such, and many rounds won’t go to the 18th or even 17th hole before the match is mathematically decided. Thus the rounds tend to be much quicker than stroke play, so they are able to play both morning and afternoon rounds in the same day once the fields have been narrowed down.
Kevin Kisner is in Group 2 as the #34 seed and will have to face the previously vanquished Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, and Alabama product Justin Thomas. Kiz is already tweeting at JT that Alabama “needs an L”. Good spirited fun and I hope Kiz can do what Kirby cannot.
Group 5 has Bubba Watson as the #55 seed, facing Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Joaquin Niemann, and the never-likable Patrick Reed. Do what needs to be done, Bubba.
Brian Harman is in Group 10 as a #54 seed. And he will tee it up versus Carlos Ortiz, Hideki Matsuyama, and Patrick Cantlay. Harman is probably showing the best form recently and had a decorated amateur career in match play formats (won the US Junior Amateur).
Brendon Todd is the #47 seed in Group 14, and faces fellow Bulldog Harris English (#19). They also have Daniel Berger as the highest seed in the group, and Erik Van Rooyen as the lowest seed. This might be the most competitive pod, but Berger has a win earlier this season and neither Todd nor English have shown too much the last month.
The Macon Mullet Russell Henley is #50 in Group 16. Sungjae Im, Victor Perez, and Marc Leishman round out the pod. Henley has had a sneaky good late winter, with a T11 at the Sony and a T3 last week at the Honda. If his putting stays hot, he’s a birdie machine.
While none of the former Classic City golfers has the best ranking in their respective group, almost all are considered “bracket busters” because of their gritty determination. And all are multiple time PGA Tour winners. There are also 22 first time competitors in this Match Play. Throw in COVID, a wacky world, and Oral Roberts just a few hours away and we could see some serious upsets.
If you want to see some Georgia Bulldogs actually compete in a bracket, you’ve still got Coach Joni Taylor and the Lady Dawgs. They face Oregon later today in a #10/#12 matchup at 3:00 pm ET on ESPN2. Once that’s over, flip it on over to Golf Channel to see ‘Dawgs chasing little white balls, and hopefully busting some brackets. And as always...