AUSTIN, Texas – Winning the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the most grueling test in golf, with three days of pool play followed by 36 holes a day on the weekend. Just ask Billy Horschel, who outlasted Scottie Scheffler in last year’s final.
“I got home Sunday night, and Monday and Tuesday and even into Wednesday, I was exhausted,” Horschel said. “I remember talking with Tiger and being like, man, I'm exhausted. Seven rounds in five days. Yes, we know how long it can be, but I was just absolutely wiped out both physically and mentally, but just the physical part of it, just playing so much golf.”
Horschel had a week off between the WGC-Match Play and the Masters, but said the toll of winning at Austin Country Club did impact his preparation for Augusta National, where he finished tied for 50th.
It’s that toll and the proximity to the year’s first major that likely led some to skip this week’s event, including Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns and Cameron Smith. Phil Mickelson is also skipping this week’s event after announcing last month he was taking time away from the game.
“All those guys have played here before, and I'm sure they all love playing match play. It's just a matter of scheduling,” Xander Schauffele said. “[Burns] just repeated last week, [Smith] won The Players, [McIlroy] is gearing up for a very important major. I think it's just a scheduling thing.”
The WGC-Match Play was originally played in January and February before transitioning to late March in 2016.