The fifth version of “The Match”, a PGA TOUR match-play exhibition series, will take place this Friday during the Thanksgiving holiday. This version will see the competition go back to its roots as it will feature two pro players only, and they’ll go head-to-head at the famous Wynn Las Vegas course. Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau have traded jabs through the media for over a year now, and while they recently made up (supposedly) at the Ryder Cup, there’s still plenty of bragging rights available for the winner.
The competition itself is only going to be played over 12 holes but will feature traditional match-play rules, meaning one player will either win a hole, or the hole will be “halved”, aka no player wins the hole. As of right now, DeChambeau sits as the small favorite at -125 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
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I’ve written up my thoughts for the pool below and have tried to give you decisive picks and strategies to employ at each level. Hope you enjoy!
Will The Match end before Hole 12? Yes or No
The Wynn Golf course is set up for excitement. There’s water on almost every hole but the fairways are also open and both of these big hitters will be able to find any errant drives quite easily (potentially on other fairways). It seems unlikely in a setting like this that one player is just going to pull away, especially given the shorter format (12 holes instead of 18). The last time we had two pros mano-a-mano in this format (Tiger and Phil back in 2018) we went to extra holes and that feels like a distinct possibility here. Playing for pride is often the best motivator, so at the very least, I’d vote that we need that final 12th hole to decide a winner for this version.
Will any player go up 2 after the 7th Hole? Yes or No
Obviously, if I’m picking this match to at least make it to the 12th and final hole, then I don’t really want to see anyone pull away. The setup is going to snake around the course and has picked some of the tougher holes for down the stretch. I’d like to think this will make it harder for one player to pull away from the other as well. The other factor here is recent form. Neither player is entering this match in top billing. Brooks has missed his last two cuts (from the Fall swing) and last finished inside the top-10 at an event in July. Bryson hasn’t played competitively since the TOUR Championship three months ago. I don’t think any golfer pulls away down the stretch here.
What will the outcome of the 7th Hole be? Bryson DeChambeau win, Hole is halved or Brooks Koepka win
The 7th hole played by Brooks and Bryson will actually be the 14th-hole on the Wynn Golf Club. The hole looks set to play at over 440 yards and is essentially a straight forward par 4. The green is slightly protected by trees but this hole will involve decisions off the tee as there are some deep fairway bunkers and serious trees lining the fairways which will punish wayward drives. My feeling is that Bryson will likely try and drive it close to the green and how well he accomplishes this feat will likely decide the hole. This isn’t an overly difficult setup but Bryson’s sheer power off the tee likely gives him a small edge.
Choice: Bryson DeChambeau
Who will have the better 8th Hole score? Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka or Tie / Any other outcome
The 8th hole played in this event will actually be the 9th hole on the Wynn Golf Course, which plays as one of the longest par 4s on the course at over 460 yards. Even good drives by both players won’t necessarily mean golden birdie chances. If anything, par may even be enough to win this hole. The odds for this match are still relatively close, with Bryson a small -125 on DraftKings Sportsbook. It’s significant but not enough to give him the edge on a hole that should be more likely to produce less birdies than most. Go with the push here.
Choice: Tie / any other outcome
Will any player hit the ball within 5 feet on the 9th Hole? Yes or No
The ninth hole in this match is actually going to be the seventh hole on the Wynn, which also happens to be the shortest hole on the golf course, a 157-yard Par 3. Water does come into play big time on many of these par 3s and it should create some excitement for TV, but I doubt the players will be fazed much by it. Ultimately, these kinds of cool looking holes are made to intimidate amateurs but will be seen as basic wedge shots for pros. Even though there’s likely far less than a 50% chance, from a probability standpoint, that we get a ball inside five feet you can differentiate yourself in the Pool by taking Yes here. I like that approach and the fact this hole will be played deep into the round (both players will be warmed up) strengthens that strategic approach too.
Which player will be up after the 9th Hole? Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka or Tie / Any other outcome
We’ll apply probability again here and go back to the odds at DraftKings Sportsbook to help us with this one. Bryson DeChambeau is the favorite to win the match at -125 and is also the favorite to be ahead after nine holes at the same odds (-125). If you want to apply some serious galaxy brain thinking, Bryson is also a former Vegas winner (Shriners 2018) and may be better acclimatized to playing in this area. His iron play could benefit as a result and we have a short par 3 in play as the ninth hole. We’ll stick with the odds and go with Bryson.
Choice: Bryson DeChambeau
Who will hit the longer tee shot on Hole 10? Bryson DeChambeau or Brooks Koepka
The 10th hole will be played on the par 5 8th at Wynn Golf Course, so both players should take their driver here. We’re only talking about one tee shot, so anything could happen, but it’s really hard to go with anyone but Bryson in this spot. Brooks Koepka ranked 10th in Driving Distance on TOUR last year and averaged 310 yards per drive but he was still 13 yards behind DeChambeau, who averaged 323 yards. That’s not a small enough difference to make me want to apply game theory in this spot and take the likely under-owned (under-chosen) Koepka here. Look for other places to differentiate.
Choice: Bryson DeChambeau
Hole 11: Nearest to the hole after tee shot? Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, or No golfer hits onto the green
Hole 11 should be one of the more fascinating to watch. It will be played on the 18th hole at the Wynn Golf Course, which is the venue’s signature hole and plays as a long par 3. The hole can stretch up to 250 yards and plays to a small green that’s surrounded by water on the left and has a waterfall backdrop behind it. Applying the same logic here I did to question six, I like Bryson to have edge on these par 3s. He also ranks first in proximity stats on TOUR from 200+ yards (over the last 50 rounds) and was the better par 3 player last season as well.
Choice: Bryson DeChambeau
Hole 12: Will any player drive the green? Yes or No
The 12th and final hole of the event is set to play at the par 4 17th on the Wynn Golf Course, which is a 350+ yard par 4. Both players have the power to reach this green from the tee box but the layout here isn’t necessarily one which will likely lead to a ton of balls holding the green. Players could take out their driver but will likely look for a safer landing spot just off the green, to avoid water which the green slopes towards.
Will either golfer make an eagle in The Match after the 7th Hole? Yes or No
The final five holes the players will be facing on the Wynn will be holes 9, 7, 8, 18, and 17. That fivesome includes one par 5 (the 8th) which plays as 536-yard par 5. It’s certainly short enough that both players could have mid to short irons into the green but it should also be noted that it plays as the seventh-toughest handicap on the course. As mentioned above, the short par 4-17th doesn’t look like a hole where we’ll see drives get close to the pin, so we’re left with just one good chance here (outside of a miracle hole out). I’d fade this as one bad drive on the par 5 could seriously ruin your chances of even getting a realistic eagle putt from one of the players.
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