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Experts' picks: WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship

It's prediction time again this week, and we begin earlier than usual due to the WGC-Cadillac Match Play starting Wednesday at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco instead of the typical Thursday opening.

Our panel of experts will pick one player they think will win and "earn" whatever cash their selection makes that week. Finish first and it's likely a $1 million-plus payout. Miss the cut and it's a bagel in the bank.

The catch? They can pick any particular golfer only once all season. And we're keeping a weekly tally for bragging rights, of course.

Matt Barrie, SportsCenter anchor

Ian Poulter: Give me Ian Poulter in the field of 64. His emotion and streaky play are perfect for the WGC-Cadillac Match Play format. His group is tough with Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland. But I like Poulter to advance and get hot at the right time. His singles match play record is 34-14-5 and at any given time he can get the "Ian Poulter Look Of Death" in his eyes and use it to his advantage. Poulter seems to come up short every time we give him major championship love. But he's big-time when it's one-on-one.

Jonathan Coachman, SportsCenter anchor

Patrick Reed: This is always the toughest pick of the year. Who can mentally focus for five days? And now there is a new format, which means all 64 golfers will play at least three matches. I loved how Patrick Reed played at the Ryder Cup. He loves one-on-one play, and I believe he loves the "me versus the world" mentality as well. Reed is my guy this week.

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst

Hunter Mahan: One of the main reasons I'm picking him this week is because he hasn't played since his ninth-place finish at the Masters. Playing potentially seven competitive rounds is going to be a grind, so coming in fresh will have a big influence as the guys get to the weekend. Mahan has had a pretty good match-play record the past few years as well. As the only guy in the pool without a win, I'm feeling a little left out in the cold. I'm either going to win this week or I'm going to Vegas to get hired as "the cooler" by one of the casinos.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer

Ian Poulter: Although the new format takes some of the fluke factor out of the Match Play Championship, it still doesn't guarantee the top players will make it to the round of 16 on Saturday morning. That's why this seems a good week to go with Poulter, whose match-play record is impressive even if his stroke-play mark leaves you scratching your head.

The old WGC-Match Play is one of just two wins on Poulter's PGA Tour résumé, and he hasn't won a stroke-play event since his WGC-HSBC Champions title in November 2012. But he does have another victory at the European Tour's Volvo match-play event. And then of course there is his Ryder Cup record: 12-4-2, including that impressive 4-0 run in 2012.

Here's the problem with Poulter: He's in a tough group, with Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland. That is a formidable group, but match play offers its share of surprises.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor

Jordan Spieth: The new format should take a little of the "Kevin Sutherland wins a WGC" surprise out of the Match Play, so I'm going with a little more chalk at this event than I normally would. Spieth will be playing in just his seventh World Golf Championship and just the second time at the Match Play (he finished T-5 in 2014). And if he doesn't make it out of pool play on Friday, he can still walk around with that green jacket, making just about everyone else in the field envious of the 21-year-old Texan.

Jason Sobel, ESPN.com senior golf writer

Ryan Moore: Follow my picks in this space every week and you'll find plenty of hunches. Moore has played some good -- but not great -- golf this year. He doesn't have any sort of match-play track record since turning pro a decade ago. And yet I can't help but think a few big ones are coming his way. Harding Park should suit his ballstriking and the West Coast vibe should suit his personality. Just call it a hunch.

John Ziomek, SportsCenter coordinating producer

Hideki Matsuyama: He's ready for a career-defining victory. I'm surprised he hasn't won more than once on the PGA Tour. He played well at the Masters and has been pretty consistent all year. The 23-year-old doesn't make a lot of bogeys. This is the week he adds to that win total.


Earlier this year, Chris Morfas commented on the Valspar Championship picks article and noted that accountability is rare these days. So in an effort at transparency, we will be updating the list below with each week's picks. Good idea, Chris.

Harig: $6,128,785

-- Hyundai Tournament of Champions (Patrick Reed, $1,140,000)
-- Sony Open in Hawaii (Charles Howell III, $42,280)
-- Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (Bill Haas, $1,026,000)
-- Waste Management Phoenix Open (Brendan Steele, $50,242)
-- Farmers Insurance Open (Brandt Snedeker, $76,356)
-- AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Jimmy Walker, $63,835)
-- Northern Trust Open (Charl Schwartzel, $24,120)
-- The Honda Classic (Lee Westwood, $46,563)
-- PGA Tour/European Tour: WGC-Cadillac Championship (Dustin Johnson, $1,570,000)
-- Valspar Championship: Luke Donald, $13,469)
-- Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard (Henrik Stenson, $680,400)
-- Valero Texas Open (Jason Kokrak, $136,400)
-- Shell Houston Open (Matt Kuchar, $13,200)
-- The Masters (Jason Day, $68,000)
-- RBC Heritage (Jim Furyk, $1,062,000)
-- Zurich Classic of New Orleans (Sean O'Hair, $115,920)
-- WGC-Cadillac Match Play (Ian Poulter)

Ziomek: $3,867,434

-- Hyundai Tournament of Champions (Matt Kuchar, $90,333)
-- Sony Open in Hawaii (Sang-Moon Bae, $12,967)
-- Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (Ryan Palmer, $136,800)
-- Waste Management Phoenix Open (Brendan Steele, $50,242)
-- Farmers Insurance Open (Jason Day, $1,134,000)
-- AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Jimmy Walker, $63,835)
-- Northern Trust Open (Dustin Johnson, $589,600)
-- The Honda Classic (Paul Casey, $317,200)
-- PGA Tour/European Tour: WGC-Cadillac Championship (Patrick Reed, $83,000)
-- Valspar Championship (Padraig Harrington, $0)
-- Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard (Sean O'Hair, $40,058)
-- Valero Texas Open (Daniel Berger, $0)
-- Shell Houston Open (J.B. Holmes, $1,188,000)
-- The Masters (Lee Westwood, $30,000)
-- RBC Heritage (Luke Donald, $100,300)
-- Zurich Classic of New Orleans (Morgan Hoffmann, $31,099)
-- WGC-Cadillac Match Play (Hideki Matsuyama)

Barrie: $3,124,864

-- Hyundai Tournament of Champions (Billy Horschel, $70,667)
-- Sony Open in Hawaii (Matt Kuchar, $291,200)
-- Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (Brandt Snedeker, $0)
-- Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jordan Spieth, $211,050)
-- Farmers Insurance Open (Hideki Matsuyama, $0)
-- AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Jimmy Walker, $63,835)
-- Northern Trust Open (J.B. Holmes, $58,792)
-- The Honda Classic (Keegan Bradley, $0)
-- PGA Tour/European Tour: WGC-Cadillac Championship (Dustin Johnson, $1,570,000)
-- Valspar Championship (Jim Furyk, $23,600)
-- Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard (Henrik Stenson, $680,400)
-- Valero Texas Open (Martin Laird, $14,839)
-- Shell Houston Open (Patrick Reed, $83,490)
-- The Masters (Bubba Watson, $40,000)
-- RBC Heritage (Russell Henley, $0)
-- Zurich Classic of New Orleans (John Peterson, $16,991)
-- WGC-Cadillac Match Play (Ian Poulter)

Maguire: $2,606,044

-- Hyundai Tournament of Champions (Kevin Streelman, $70,667)
-- Sony Open in Hawaii (Matt Kuchar, $291,200)
-- Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (Chris Kirk, $12,882)
-- Waste Management Phoenix Open (Justin Thomas, $94,500)
-- Farmers Insurance Open (Rickie Fowler, $13,608)
-- AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Patrick Reed, $44,200)
-- Northern Trust Open (Bill Haas, $0)
-- The Honda Classic (Keegan Bradley, $0)
-- PGA Tour/European Tour: WGC-Cadillac Championship (Bubba Watson, $540,000)
-- Valspar Championship (Jim Furyk, $23,600)
-- Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard (Rickie Fowler, $40,058)
-- Valero Texas Open (Martin Laird, $14,839)
-- Shell Houston Open (Phil Mickelson, $83,490)
-- The Masters (Henrik Stenson, $135,000)
-- RBC Heritage (Zach Johnson, $0)
-- Zurich Classic of New Orleans (Justin Rose, $1,242,000)
-- WGC-Cadillac Match Play (Jordan Spieth)

Coachman: $2,579,234

-- Hyundai Tournament of Champions (Jason Day, $332,667)
-- Sony Open in Hawaii (Zach Johnson, $11,760)
-- Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (Bill Haas, $1,026,000)
-- Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jordan Spieth, $211,050)
-- Farmers Insurance Open (Brooks Koepka, $23,940)
-- AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Jimmy Walker, $63,835)
-- Northern Trust Open (Dustin Johnson, $589,600)
-- The Honda Classic (Billy Horschel, $0)
-- PGA Tour/European Tour: WGC-Cadillac Championship (Sergio Garcia, $72,000)
-- Valspar Championship (Justin Thomas, $126,429)
-- Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard (Sean O'Hair, $40,058)
-- Valero Texas Open (Harris English, $38,502)
-- Shell Houston Open (Rickie Fowler, $13,068)
-- The Masters (Brandt Snedeker, $0)
-- RBC Heritage (Kevin Streelman, $13,334)
-- Zurich Classic of New Orleans (Johnson Wagner, $16,991)
-- WGC-Cadillac Match Play (Patrick Reed)

Collins: $2,086,688

-- Hyundai Tournament of Champions (Geoff Ogilvy, $61,000)
-- Sony Open in Hawaii (Zach Johnson, $11,760)
-- Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (Ryan Palmer, $136,800)
-- Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jamie Donaldson, $17,658)
-- Farmers Insurance Open (Brandt Snedeker, $76,356)
-- AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Jimmy Walker, $63,835)
-- Northern Trust Open (Dustin Johnson, $589,600)
-- The Honda Classic (Freddie Jacobsen, $0)
-- PGA Tour/European Tour: WGC-Cadillac Championship (Patrick Reed, $83,000)
-- Valspar Championship (Kevin Na, $126,429)
-- Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard (Jason Kokrak, $211,050)
-- Valero Texas Open (Matt Kuchar, $99,200)
-- Shell Houston Open (Sergio Garcia, $29,700)
-- The Masters (Rory McIlroy, $480,000)
-- RBC Heritage (Luke Donald, $100,300)
-- Zurich Classic of New Orleans ($0, Bo Van Pelt)
-- WGC-Cadillac Match Play (Hunter Mahan)

Sobel: $1,501,400

-- Shell Houston Open (Paul Casey, $191,400)
-- The Masters (Jason Day, $68,000)
-- RBC Heritage (Graham DeLaet, $0)
-- Zurich Classic of New Orleans (Justin Rose, $1,242,000)
-- WGC-Cadillac Match Play (Ryan Moore)