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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Patrick Reed should go close to home-state glory

Sergio Garcia could be waiting in the final

Patrick Reed has been swinging well in the last few weeks
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 2pm Saturday

Story so far
Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott did not enter the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play because they thought a potential seven rounds of matchplay golf was a bad idea with the Masters on the horizon, and the most of the big names who did turn up appear to have done so without much fire in their belly.

Rory McIlroy, the 8-1 favourite, lost two of his three group matches to head home early, while defending champion Dustin Johnson lost all three of his fixtures to finish bottom of his group. Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey and Phil Mickelson also failed to make the knockout stages in a tournament which has been a bloodbath for punters and a joy for bookmakers.

The only one of the top eight in the ante-post betting who survived the first three days of group action is Justin Thomas, who has given himself a golden opportunity of becoming world number one for the first time on Sunday.

Thomas won all three of his group matches and faces Si Woo Kim in the next round. Thomas could be backed at 12-1 ante-post, but is no bigger than 9-2 heading into the weekend.

Final group standings
Group one (points)
K Kisner 2.5
A Hadwin 2
B Wiesberger 1.5
D Johnson 0

Group two
J Thomas 3
F Molinari 2
P Kizzire 1
L List 0

Group three
K Aphibarnrat 3
C Reavie 1.5
K Bradley 1
J Rahm 0.5

Group four
P Reed 3
J Spieth 2
C Schwartzel 1
H Li 0

Group five
C Smith 2.5
P Cantlay 2
H Matsuyama 1
Y Miyazato 0.5

Group six
B Harman 2.5
P Uihlein 2
R McIlroy 1
J Vegas 0.5

Group seven
S Garcia 3
X Schauffele 2
D Frittelli 1
S Sharma 0

Group eight
L Oosthuizen 2
J Dufner 2
J Day 1
J Hahn 1

Group nine
I Poulter 3
T Fleetwood 2
K Chappell 1
D Berger 0

Group ten
K Stanley 2 (won playoff)
P Casey 2
R Henley 1
M Fitzpatrick 1

Group 11
B Watson 2.5
B Grace 1.5
J Suri 1.5
M Leishman 0.5

Group 12
T Hatton 2 (won playoff)
B Steele 2
A Levy 1
C Hoffman 1

Group 13
A Noren 3
T Finau 2
T Pieters 0.5
K Na 0.5

Group 14
C Howell 3
P Mickelson 2
R Cabrera-Bello 1
S Kodaira 0

Group 15
S W Kim 2.5
G Woodland 1.5
W Simpson 1.5
P Perez 0.5

Group 16
M Kuchar 2.5
Y Ikeda 1.5
R Fisher 1
Z Johnson 1

Final-16 draw
K Kisner v M Kuchar
L Oosthuizen v I Poulter
P Reed v A Noren
C Smith v T Hatton
J Thomas v S W Kim
S Garcia v K Stanley
K Aphibarnrat v C Howell
B Harman v B Watson

Best outright prices
9-2 J Thomas, 9 P Reed, S Garcia, 11 A Noren, 12 B Watson, M Kuchar, 14 L Oosthuizen, 16 K Aphibarnrat, 18 I Poulter, B Harman, 25 C Smith, 28 C Howell, K Kisner, 33 K Stanley, 40 S W Kim

Today's advice
Sensible punters doubtless waited until the end of the group stages before striking an outright wager on the Match Play. The fact three players progressed to the last 16 on two points (Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley and Tyrrell Hatton) and 12 players who also scored two points have been eliminated, highlights how much of a role Lady Luck plays over the first three days.

The picture is much clearer from here – with the draw set and the eventual champion only four victories away from lifting the trophy.
Justin Thomas has become a short-price favourite, but punters should probably not get too carried away by his comfortable passage from an easy (if there is such a thing) group. Thomas is playing well and has become a prolific champion, but Sergio Garcia looks set to provide stiff opposition in the quarter-finals, then Bubba Watson or Brian Harman could provide a difficult semi-final foe.

That is if Thomas negotiates his way past Si Woo Kim, who will be bursting with desire in their last-16 meeting. Kim became a figure of fun in the United States' post-Presidents Cup press conference, the tipsy American players singing a song to mock Kim's celebrations during the match, and revenge would be sweet if Kim could bring Thomas down a peg or two in Austin.

There is nothing easy for Thomas from here and he has a poor record in Texas, so the short odds can be left alone. Preference is for the much juicier quotes about Patrick Reed, one of the kings of matchplay competition.

The only reason for leaving Reed alone ante-post was the fact he got drawn in a group with Jordan Spieth. Reed, second and seventh in his two latest strokeplay starts, was near the top of the most punters' Match Play shortlists until he was pitched against the Open champion. With only one man progressing from each group, the draw lessened the title chances of both Reed and Spieth.

With Spieth defeated and Reed topping his group with a 100 percent record, the man known as Captain America by his peers can threaten title glory. Reed has been a colossus in the Ryder Cup for the United States and revels in eyeball-to-eyeball combat.

Equipment issues were holding Reed back for several months, but he has got his back sorted in the last few weeks, is thrilled to be using the Titleist ProV1, and has found top form. In his home state, desperate for victory after almost two years without a trophy, Reed should prove a fearsome opponent for anyone this weekend.

The fact that his matches could turn into Ryder Cup style affairs in front of a supportive crowd can only aid Reed's hopes. His faces Swede, Alex Noren, in the last-16, then possibly Tyrrell Hatton in the quarters. It is unlikely, but not inconceivable, that Ian Poulter could be a semi-final opponent.

It is impossible to rule out any of the 16 runners in 18-hole sprints, but Reed has a great opportunity of showcasing his matchplay qualities. Garcia, playing in his adopted home city and full of positive vibes having just become a father, could face Reed in the final.
The last-16 action starts at 12.30pm UK and Ireland time, with the final match out at 1.47pm. The quarter-finals will follow, with the semi-finals and final tomorrow.

Recommendations
P Reed to win title
3pts 9-1 Betfred

S Garcia to make the final
2pts 5-1 Sky Bet


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The only reason for leaving Reed alone ante-post was the fact he got drawn in a group with Jordan Spieth
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