WGC-Cadillac Match Play: Slowly understanding the format

We’ll have some years to finally begin to understand the new WGC-Cadillac Match Play format. You can talk about the pairing party and the niceties of the Group mechanics, but you really can’t understand all of the implications until the matches begin to unfold.

Going into the third day, the task is to identify the round-robin winner from each of the sixteen groups. The delicious twist in all of this is that there are many more possibilities than you can imagine at first glance. There are some groups where the winner has been identified: he’s 2-0 and playing the third guy who’s already 0-2. But there are also two groups where all four players are alive where winning requires multiple favorable scenarios which could end in a 3-way playoff.

Below are the players who are still alive by Group.

18 of them are at 2-0 meaning that if they win tomorrow, they will advance to the Round of 16. Of those, John Senden and Rickie Fowler have already beaten the 1-1 opponent they play Friday or their guy is 0-2, so they are in no matter what happens:

Group 1

  • Rory McIlroy 2-0
  • Billy Horschel 2-0

Group 2

  • Jordan Spieth 2-0
  • Lee Westwood 2-0

Group 3

  •  John Senden 2-0

Group 4

  • Bubba Watson 2-0
  • Louis Oosthuizen 2-0

Group 5

  • Jim Furyk 1-1
  • Martin Kaymer 1-1
  • Thongchai Jaidee 1-1
  • George Coetzee 1-1

Group 6

  • Marc Leishman 2-0
  • Justin Rose 1-1
  • Anirban Lahiri 1-1

Group 7

  • Charley Hoffman 2-0
  • Branden Grace 1-1
  • Zach Johnson 1-1

Group 8

  • Charl Schwartzel 2-0
  • Dustin Johnson 1-1
  • Matt Jones 1-1

Group 9

  • Paul Casey 2-0
  • Chris Kirk 1-1
  • Francesco Molinari 1-1

Group 10

  • Jamie Donaldson 1-1
  • Tommy Fleetwood 1-1
  • Sergio Garcia 1-1
  • Bernd Wiesberger 1-1

Group 11

  • Webb Simpson 2-0
  • Gary Woodland 2-0

Group 12

  • Brooks Koepka 2-0
  • J.B. Holmes 1-1
  • Marc Warren 1-1

Group 13

  • Rickie Fowler 2-0

Group 14

  • Hunter Mahan 2-0
  • Matt Kuchar 1-1
  • Ben Martin 1-1

Group 15

  • Danny Willett 2-0
  • Andy Sullivan 1-1
  • Patrick Reed 1-1

Group 16

  • Hideki Matsuyama 2-0
  • Kevin Na 1-1
  • Joost Luiten 1-1

To see just how the possibilities stack up in each group, the Tour has done an amazing job of detailing them at: “Rd. 3 match previews, scenarios, standings.” If you think the above tabulation made your head spin, just wait until you read the possibility narratives for Groups with complicated standings.

Beginning Saturday with the Round of 16, life is much simpler. The eight matches are all “one-and-done,” loser goes home.

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