Tuesday, 22 March 2016
Rory McIlroy during his WGC-Cadillac Match Play win in 2015  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy during his WGC-Cadillac Match Play win in 2015 (Getty Images)

Defending champion Rory McIlroy will face Americans Kevin Na and Smylie Kaufman and Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen in the group stage of the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship.

The Northern Irishman was pitched against the trio in Monday night’s draw at Austin’s Paramount Theatre, and will play each one over the first three days of the tournament – starting on Wednesday – at Austin Country Club.

Also in McIlroy’s bracket are Group 14, Group 11 and Group 6. Group 14 has something of a group of death feel about it, with reigning Open Champion Zach Johnson drawn alongside Irishman Shane Lowry, two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer and in-form Australian Marcus Fraser.

Debutant Thomas Pieters will tackle 2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott, American Bill Haas and England’s Chris Wood in Group 6, while in Group 11, two more European Tour members making their WGC-Dell Match Play bow, Russell Knox and David Lingmerth, face Branden Grace and Chris Kirk.

Frenchman Victor Dubuisson produced a heroic performance in the final of this event two years ago, losing to Jason Day on the 23rd hole, and he will have his work cut out this time when he takes on his 2014 Ryder Cup team-mate Jamie Donaldson, World Number One Jordan Spieth and the American’s good friend Justin Thomas in Group 1.



 Kiradech Aphibarnrat tasted match play success last year when he won the Paul Lawrie Match Play in Scotland, and he will need to draw on that performance to out-do the American trio of Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb in Group 8.

After speaking earlier on Monday about aiming for a giant-killing, tournament rookie Matthew Fitzpatrick will have the chance to do just that when he takes on Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed in Group 9, which also features Daniel Berger.

Fitzpatrick need look no further for inspiration than compatriot and stablemate Danny Willett, who was third on his debut last year. This time, Willett must take on Brooks Koepka, Billy Horschel and Jaco Van Zyl in Group 10.

Ryder Cup team-mates Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood have each other for company in Group 13 with Nedbank Golf Challenge winner Marc Leishman and Ryan Moore, while 2013 US Open Champion Justin Rose was drawn with Matt Kuchar, Fabien Gomez and Anirban Lahiri in Group 7.



 There are three European Tour members in Group 16 – Louis Oosthuizen, Andy Sullivan and Bernd Wiesberger are joined by Matt Jones – and two in Group 12 with Søren Kjeldsen and Rafa Cabrera-Bello drawn against Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Kisner.

In-form Day, the World Number Two, faces Thongchai Jaidee, Paul Casey and Graeme McDowell in Group 2, while in Group 5, BMW PGA Champion Byeong Hun An takes on Rickie Fowler, Scott Piercy and Jason Dufner.

The player who finishes top of each group will progress to the knockout stages, with the last-16 matches and quarter-finals taking place on Saturday before the semi-finals and 18-hole final on Sunday.

Groups 1-4. Who wins each group? #DellMatchPlay

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Groups 5-8. Who you got here? #DellMatchPlay

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Groups 9-12. Predict the four winners? #DellMatchPlay

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Groups 13-16. Who will win these groups? #DellMatchPlay

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