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The WGC-Match Play takes place in Austin this week, and while many of the game’s biggest names are involved, there are several notable absences.
The WGC-Match Play almost guarantees participation from some of the world’s best players thanks to a format that sees the top 64 players in the Official World Golf Rankings automatically qualifying for the event. That doesn’t mean those players are obligated to participate, though. If a player from that list drops out, the invitation is extended to the player next on the list, and so on. A number of players lower down the pecking order have benefitted from that rule this week, with several big names opting not to take part this year.
Three of the current top 10 won’t be appearing at this year’s tournament – Cameron Smith, Rory McIlroy and Sam Burns. Players Champion Smith released a statement last week explaining why he’s opted to miss the tournament, citing the gruelling nature of his rain-affected win at TPC Sawgrass and his desire to spend time with his family as reasons for missing out. Rory McIlroy has also opted out of the WGC-Match Play, but will take part in next week’s Valero Texas Open for the first time since 2013 as he attempts to play his way into The Masters. Meanwhile, Sam Burns, fresh from his dramatic win at The Valspar Championship, will also be absent, saying he needs to rest ahead of a busy stretch that includes The Masters.
Beyond the top 10, there are other big names missing out. Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama is still recovering from an injury that saw him miss the Players Championship earlier this month. Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson, who is taking a break from the game at present, won’t be taking part either this week or at The Masters in two weeks. Finally, World No.22 Harris English, who last competed in January’s Sony Open, is also missing as he recovers from hip surgery.
One big name who will be making a return to competitive action in Austin is Bryson DeChambeau. The American hasn’t played since January after injury, and he'll be using the WGC-Match Play as an opportunity to gain match fitness before The Masters in two weeks. He’s been drawn in a round-robin group with Talor Gooch, Lee Westwood and Richard Bland.
Six Big Names Missing The WGC-Match Play
- Cameron Smith
- Rory McIlroy
- Sam Burns
- Hideki Matsuyama
- Phil Mickelson
- Harris English
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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