‘A big key to match play is that you can’t underestimate anyone. You can’t look at the rankings and expect an easy match. Expect everyone to play their best golf,’ said world number two Rory McIlroy in the buildup to this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.
Jaco van Zyl is one player who will certainly be giving it his best, because the chance to fulfil a lifelong dream and play at The Masters is on the cards.
Growing up the 37-year-old wanted to make the top 50 in the world, play the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and compete at Augusta National. So far he has completed two of those goals, along with playing three of the four majors, but he is yet to make the trip down Magnolia Lane. In order to get there he needs to be into the top 50 in the world by the end of next week, two spots higher than his current ranking of 52nd.
The 13-time Sunshine Tour winner is daring to dream in Austin, where the leading 64 players in the world ranking will compete under a new match play format.
There will be 16 groups with four players each in the first phase of the competition, which will be decided by a round robin format.
The top player from each group of four progresses to the top 16, and from there it’s knockout competition.
The first task for Van Zyl is to come out top of his group, starting with his Wednesday match against world number 10 Danny Willett. The other two rivals he faces in the group stage are Americans Billy Horschel and Brooks Koepka.
Progression to the top 16 could get Van Zyl to Augusta National and he is hugely motivated – so much that he was the first person to register for this week’s tournament.