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Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Thomas and Noren can set up Texas shootout for title

Dustin Johnson losing grip on top spot

USPGA champion Justin Thomas is Match Play favourite
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 3pm Saturday

Story so far
Justin Thomas has revealed he almost withdrew from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play on Monday with illness, but the world number two stayed in the field and has performed superbly.

Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed last week and was not feeling great afterwards, but the little powerhouse has slowly improved as the Match Play has gone on, winning all three group games before victories over Si Woo Kim and Kyle Stanley.

Thomas, 12-1 ante-post, is 13-8 favourite going into the final day. He faces Bubba Watson in the semi-finals, with Kevin Kisner or Alex Noren waiting in the final.

Just making the final at Austin Country Club would mean Thomas becomes world number one for the first time. Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were eliminated at the group stage.

Final group standings of semi-finalists
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 11
B WATSON 2.5
B Grace 1.5
J Suri 1.5
M Leishman 0.5

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

Knockout stages route to semi-finals

K Kisner
L16: M Kuchar 1 up
QF: I Poulter 8&6

A Noren
L16: P Reed 5&3
QF: C Smith 4&2

J Thomas
L16: S W Kim 6&5
QF: K Stanley 2&1

B Watson
L16: B Harman 2&1
QF: K Aphibarnrat 5&3

Best outright prices
13-8 J Thomas, 5-2 A Noren, 100-30 B Watson, 5 K Kisner

Today's advice
The WGC-Match Play has been a tough tournament for most punters, with shocks galore and several big names failing to emerge from the group stages, but Justin Thomas backers will be enjoying themselves rotten.

Thomas, the only member of the world's top 16 to progress to the semi-finals, will strongly fancy his chances from here. The 13-8 is nothing special, but probably the right price. Dustin Johnson's year-long reign as world number one could soon be over.

Thomas has got used to lifting trophies, winning six times in the last 15 months, and is likely to be much the most confident of the semi-finalists when the action starts at 3pm UK and Ireland time.

Bubba Watson is not a straightforward opponent – the moody left-hander won the Genesis Open last month to boost what was fragile self-belief – but Thomas has been producing the goods on a much more consistent basis. Watson did not make the last Ryder Cup team and will be desperate to upset one of the new breed of Yank stars, but he may lack the composure for the task.

A Thomas versus Alex Noren final could be on the cards, with Thomas edging the final. Ian Poulter capitulated to gift Kevin Kisner a semis spot, but Noren should put up much more of a fight. The Swede has performed brilliantly all week, making birdies for fun in the group stages before defeating Patrick Reed and Cameron Smith, two tough opponents, in straight knockout.

Kisner has 2018 form figures of 17-25-50-MC-MC-29-MC. He has obviously found his game this week and stepped up a gear, but preference is for the two men – Thomas and Noren – who have been excelling for a long time.

Recommendation
J Thomas (4-7) & A Noren (4-6)
2pts double bet365, Hills


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Ian Poulter capitulated to gift Kevin Kisner a semis spot, but Noren should put up much more of a fight
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