As the world’s finest golfers meet in Austin, Texas for the second World Golf Championship of the season, we take a look at the stellar field teeing it up at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Jason Day lifted the WGC Match Play for the second time in three years with a 5 and 4 victory over Louis Oosthuizen in the 2016 final at Austin Country Club.
Day's short game was in brilliant shape all week, with the Australian coming through the group stage with a perfect three-win record before beating Americans Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka to set up a semi-final clash with Rory McIlroy.
The pair exchanged blows during a fierce contest, but it was Day who emerged victorious after finishing one up against the Northern Irishman.
Facing Day in the final was Louis Oosthuizen, who defeated Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello to make the last stage with a 100% record.
In the end, it was Day who was the star of the show, with the 2015 US PGA Championship winner overcoming a back injury suffered earlier in the week to claim his third European Tour title and move back to Number One in the Official World Golf Ranking.
First held in 1999 at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California, the inaugural WGC Match Play was won by America’s Jeff Maggert.
The first European to triumph at the event was Darren Clarke, with the Northern Irishman holding off Tiger Woods, who would go on to dominate the WGC Match Play.
Woods’ first victory in 2003 sparked a remarkable run where the then World Number One went unbeaten in 13 consecutive matches to win the tournament in back to back years.
The 14-time Major champion also holds the records for the biggest winning margin in a match - he beat Stephen Ames 9 and 8 during the first round in 2006 - and for the biggest winning margin in a championship match, which came in 2008 when he defeated Stewart Cink by 8 and 7 to win the event for the third time.
Other multiple winners include Geoff Ogilvy (2006, 2009) and Day (2014, 2016) while Europeans who have won the event are Clarke (2000), Henrik Stenson (2007), Ian Poulter (2010), Luke Donald (2011) and McIlroy (2015).
World Number One Dustin Johnson will be looking to make it two World Golf Championships titles in two starts as the 32 year old makes his first appearance since triumphing at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Defending champion Day can join Woods as the only player to win the WGC Match Play on three occasions, while World Number Two McIlroy will be targeting his first WGC victory since 2015.
Looking to go one step better at this year’s WGC Match Play are Paul Casey (2009-10), Martin Kaymer (2011), Gary Woodland (2015) and Oosthuizen (2016), who finished runner-up during these years.
European Tour Members making their WGC Match Play debuts this week are Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm, Hideto Tanihara and Jeunghun Wang, bringing the total number of European Tour Members to have competed in the event since 1999 to 130.
Hosting the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play for the second time is Austin Country Club.
Founded in 1899, the historic club has seen plenty of change having moved in 1949, and later in 1984 to Davenport Ranch, which is the site of the course today.
The Pete Dye-designed course is modelled on the Scottish classics Royal Dornoch and Gullane Hill, but is given more of a Texas feel with the presence of limestone surrounding its greens and fairways.
In particular, the dramatic par four 18th hole, which is known as ‘Glensatan’, will test the nerves of the world’s elite battling it out in the Texas heat.
DID YOU KNOW
· Day is trying to follow in the footsteps of Woods (2003-2004) and make a successful defence of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
· Day has the best recent record of any of the competitors. The Australian has played in the event six times and has finished in the top ten four times. He came tied ninth in 2011, third in 2013 and first in both 2014 and 2016.
· Day is bidding to become only the second Australian in European Tour history to make a successful defence of a European Tour title, after Greg Norman (1981-82 Dunlop Masters).
· In 2016 Austin Country Club played host to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play for the first time. This was the first time a European Tour event had been played in the American state of Texas.
· Austin Country Club was the sixth different venue to stage the match play contest. They are: La Costa Resort and Spa (1999-2000, 2002-2006), Metropolitan Golf Club (2001), The Galley at Dove Mountain (2007-2008, 2013-2014), Ritz-Carlton Golf Club (2009-2012), TPC Harding Park (2015) and Austin Country Club (2016-2017).
· Of all the WGC events, the Dell Technologies Match Play has been the most successful for European Tour Members, producing six different winners.
· Two American players will join the 50 club this week when Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson join Lee Westwood (56), Sergio Garcia (51) and Adam Scott (50) and celebrate their half century of WGC appearances.
· There will be 29 European Tour Members competing at Austin Country Club in 2017.