The PGA Tour tees off the third round of the 2022 WGC Match Play on Friday at 10:20 a.m. ET, and like most Friday’s on the PGA Tour a good portion of the field will be heading home and not playing the weekend.
But in the WGC-Dell Match Play from Austin Country Club in Texas, how you do relative to the field is basically meaningless regarding your ability to play on Saturday and Sunday. It’s all about how you do in your group of four players.
How is the field narrowed?
Sixty-four players began the event in 16 groups of four. After each player faces off against his three opponents, the one with the best record will advance to the Top 16 over the weekend where head-to-head, single-elimination play will begin.
Just like the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, we’ll have 16 players become eight (Saturday morning), eight players then become the final four (Saturday afternoon), the final four play for two spots in the championship match (Sunday morning), and then the winner of the title match gets the trophy (Sunday afternoon). There’s also a third place match on Sunday afternoon as well, so if you make it to the last day, you’ll be playing 36 holes no matter what.
When is the field narrowed to the Top 16?
The field narrows as soon as there’s a winner from each group. Remember that in match play, not all matches are played to completion. If Player A has a five-hole lead over Player B after the 14th hole is completed, as there’s only four holes remaining the match is over Player A wins. The score in this case would be read as Player A wins 5 & 4.
So as soon as there’s a winner in each group, we’ll have our field to tee off for the eight matches on Saturday morning.
And keep in mind that sudden death is a big part of this format. If two (or more!) golfers are tied at the end of the round robin play, all tied members of the group head to the Tee No. 1 for sudden death. In sudden death play, just like in a playoff during a regular PGA Tour event, the first player to record the lowest score on a hole will advance to the Saturday’s “Sweet 16.”