Saturday, March 26, 2016

Chalk reigned in pool play at the WGC-Dell Match Play

Picking chalk at the WGC-Dell Match Play has historically been a road to ruin. However, in this year's first run at Austin Country Club, the top seeds reigned.

In the second year of the round-robin pool play format, eight of the top-seeded, group-anchoring players moved on to the Saturday Round of 16. Four players randomly drawn into each group from players ranked 17th through 32nd in the field also made it to the weekend.

Compare that to last year, where half of the weekend field was made of players seeding in one of the first two pools in each group, including five top-seeded players.

There's no one clear explanation for what well could be a one-off in a tournament and a format that has a propsenity to create surprise results.

One could be simply that the best players in the tournament are playing great, with the likes of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day already having won this season on the PGA Tour. Then again, Adam Scott, who won two starts in the Florida Swing, didn't get to the weekend.

Another could be that the random draws just worked out in favorable matchups for the top-seeded players.

The last could be the advent of the 18-hole tie in group-play matches. In 2015, the first three days of 18-hole matches had to end in a winner, meaning only one player in the match scored a group point. This year, those ties opened up possibilities for more players to have group-deciding matches on Friday.

Now the question is if the chalk will continue all the way to the final, which would lead to a match pitting Jordan Spieth against Jason Day for the world No. 1 ranking.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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