News & Opinion

2021 WGC Match Play field: 5 of game’s stars will miss it

Dustin Johnson at 2021 WGC Workday
Dustin Johnson, who will defending his Masters title in 2 weeks, will seek to regain some momentum this week as the top-seeded player at the 64-man WGC Match Play in Austin, Texas.

64-man event will feature most of elite golfers, except for Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Gary Woodland and Tiger Woods

After a lackluster Florida Swing, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson will be looking to regain some momentum to defend his Masters title in two weeks when he leads the 64 qualifiers for this week’s WGC Match Play in Austin, Texas.

Johnson tied for 48th two weeks ago at the Players Championship, two weeks after a T-54 at the WGC Workday, the first of four Florida stops on the PGA Tour. Johnson, a resident of Jupiter, Fla., skipped the recent Honda Classic in nearby Palm Beach Gardens.

Since claiming his first green jacket in November at the Masters, which was postponed until the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson has registered some uneven performances. He tied for 11th in the 42-man Tournament of Champions in early January before winning the European Tour’s Saudi International in February. After a T-8 at the Genesis Invitational, he finished far down the leaderboard in his two Florida starts.

Nonetheless, Johnson has led the Official World Golf Ranking for 30 consecutive weeks, dating to August and his victory in the season-long FedEx Cup.

Johnson, the 2017 Match Play champion, will be among 64 of the top 69-ranked players in the world this week at Austin Country Club.

Among the five who won’t be competing, four players who qualified are injured or ill: Brooks Koepka (left knee), Justin Rose (back spasms), Gary Woodland (tested positive for COVID-19 last week) and Tiger Woods (broken right leg and other injuries from Feb. 23 single-car rollover crash). Adam Scott opted not to compete after having played three of the four stops on the Florida Swing.

Replacing them at the Match Play will be Ian Poulter, Erik van Rooyen, Adam Long, J.T. Poston and Dylan Frittelli, who rank Nos. 65-69 in the world order.

Tee times were expected to be finalized Monday, after the world ranking updates, according to the PGA Tour. The tournament begins Wednesday with 16 four-man groups playing a round-robin series for three days. The winner of each group will advance to the Round of 16 on Saturday, when single-elimination matches will be held in the morning and afternoon. The final four will play Sunday morning, with the championship match in the afternoon. The $10.5 million event will pay $1,787,560 million to the winner. Kevin Kisner, the 2019 winner, will be the defending champion because the 2020 Match Play was canceled because of the pandemic.

The WGC Match Play will be the first of two consecutive PGA Tour stops in Texas. The Valero Texas Open on April 1-4 will precede the Masters.

For a look at the Match Play field, click here.

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