The PGA Tour’s arrival in Florida marks the unofficial road to the Masters, and two players come with a lot of momentum.
One of them is Jason Day, a former world No. 1. Day ended last year at No. 112 in the world. In his last four starts, he tied for 18th in The American Express, tied for seventh at Torrey Pines, finished fifth in Phoenix and tied for ninth at Riviera.
Now the Australian is up to No. 46, making him a lock for the Match Play next week as he tries to stay in the top 50 to get back to the Masters.
Keith Mitchell tied for fourth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and then was in the final group at Riviera and wound up alone in fifth. He is at No. 44 in the world and, like Day, will try to stay in the top 50 to return to Augusta National.
The Masters takes the top 50 on March 26 — after the Match Play — and that 64-man field will go the deepest into the world ranking since 2001.
That’s more a product of Saudi-funded LIV Golf. There currently are 11 players on LIV Golf rosters from among the top 64, and with a few players likely to skip the Match Play, it most likely will go down to nearly 80th in the world to fill the field.
That bodes particularly well for Matt Kuchar, who had a pair of top 10s during the West Coast swing (tie for seventh in Honolulu, eighth at Riviera) and has gone up to No. 65 after starting the year at No. 87.
Kuchar has a 36-11-4 record in the WGC-Dell Match Play.