World Golf Championship Match Play: A Deep Dive

Ronan MacNamara

Scottie Scheffler poses with the Walter Hagen Cup after defeating Kevin Kisner in their finals match to win the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The first, last and only World Golf Championship of the season begins on Wednesday as 64 of the best players in the world descend on Austin Country Club for the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play as Scottie Scheffler looks to become the first player to defend this title since Tiger Woods in 2003-04. 

Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Seamus Power will hope that an Irish name is the last to be etched onto the trophy. 


  • Eight of the top nine players in the world are in the field. 
  • Justin Suh at World Number 77 was the last man in the field. 
  • No successful title defence since Tiger Woods in 2003-04. Hunter Mahan won in 2012 and was runner-up in 2013. Json Day won in 2014 and 2016. Kevin Kisner was runner-up in 2018, winner in 2019 and runner-up in 2022. 

Largest Margin of victory 

9&8 Tiger Woods def Stephen Ames (1st round, 2006 at La Costa Resort & Spa). 

Longest Match 

26 holes, Mike Weir def. Loren Roberts (1st round, 2003 at La Costa), Scott Verplank def. Lee Westwood (1st round, 2006 at La Costa).


Since the round robin format was introduced in 2015 only 24% of players to qualify for the last-16 were beaten in one of their three group games. 

A quick start is vital as 80% of players who have won their opening match have progressed from their bracket. 

11 of the 14 finalists have got off the mark in their first match. 

Kevin Kisner has made the final three times without winning any of his opening matches in the bracket. 

Seeding doesn’t matter 

  • Rankings of the winners from 2018 to 2021 were 32, 48, 25 and Scheffler was number 5. 
  • Since 2015 the top seed in each bracket has advanced to the knockout stage 33% of the time. 
  • 2021 saw only one top seed progress while eight of the 49-64 seeds advanced to the knockout stage.  
  • 2021 saw just two players from the top-29 qualify for the quarter final with seeds 30, 31, 32 and 52 making it to the semi finals. 
  • In seven years of the bracket format, a player seeded 61st or lower has advanced from their group on five occasions. 
  • Four times has a top-5 seed won the tournament. The other three times the winner was seeded 32nd or lower. 

Momentum is key 

  • Players who are leading through six holes have won 70% of matches. 
  • Players who are leading through 9 have a 74% success rate. 
  • Players leading through 13 have won 80% of matches. 
  • Players leading through 16 holes have won 83% of the time.

Defending WGC’s 

Scottie Scheffler has lost twice in fourteen matches and he looks as best placed as anybody to defend a World Golf Championship. Tiger Woods is the only man to defend a WGC since their inception in 1999 – doing it eight times. 

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