Date: March 22, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Mixed bag for Aussies in WGC matchplay draw

Australians have endured mixed fortunes as the preliminary groups were set for this week’s WGC Match Play Championship.

The 64-strong field was divided into 16 four-man groups to play round robin contests with the winner of each advancing to the knockout phase.

These groups each have one of the top-16 ranked players, with the event’s “family tree” draw theoretically seeding the world’s top four players to meet in the semi-finals.

But players to complete each four-man group were then drawn randomly, one from each of the groups (ranked 17-32, 33-48 and 49-64).

New world No.2 Jason Day drew a brutally tough assignment against dual runner-up Paul Casey (23), evegreen Thai Thongchai Jaidee (36) and former US Open champion Graeme McDowell (62).

World No.6 Adam Scott fared well, drawing American Bill Haas (30), Englishman Chris Wood (41) and Belgian Thomas Pieters (55).

Victorian Marc Leishman, who carried ranking No.25 after Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson withdrew, was drawn as No.2 into Spaniard Sergio Garcia’s group, which also contains Ryan Moore and Lee Westwood.

Marcus Fraser (60) finds himself in an extremely competitive foursome alongside multiple major champions Zach Johnson (14) and Martin Kaymer (44) and mercurial Irishman Shane Lowry (24).

Emirates Australian Open winner Matt Jones was one of the last into the field at No.61, but drew relatively well against Louis Oosthuizen (16), Andy Sullivan (29) and Austrian Bernd Weisberger (35).

Some of the other notable groupings include world No.1 Jordan Spieth pitted against his childhood mate Justin Thomas in group No.1, alongside European Tour stars Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson.

World No.4 Bubba Watson was drawn into a power group of J.B. Holmes, Emiliano Grillo and newcomer Patton Kizzire, while Phil Mickelson’s slide to No.17 pits him against fellow American Patrick Reed in Group No.9.

The event will be held for the first time at the Austin Country Club in Texas with each of the three group matches to be played from Wednesday to Friday, US time. The round of 16 and quarter-finals will be played on Saturday, with the semis and final on Sunday (all US time).

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