It might be a bold pick, but I see Kurt Kitayama not only winning his group at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but I’ve got him into the quarterfinals.
The 30-year-old Californian has been a journeyman throughout his career, but he’s beginning to assert himself stateside on the PGA Tour.
It was a culmination of solid play the past year or so. Kitayama was in the hunt to win last season at the Genesis Scottish Open and early this season at the CJ Cup, where he was a runner-up at both.
Getting those reps in the heat of competition helped him stay cool and outlast a deep field at Bay Hill.
It’s hard to lay into him too much for missing the cut the next week at the Players Championship.
With a week to recoup, I like Kitayama getting back to his recent form.
He gets a favorable draw as the leader of his group, No. 10 Tony Finau, has never made it to bracket play in four tries.
Next is No. 45 Adrian Meronk, who’s an event newcomer. The Polish golfer has yet to string together consistent results in the U.S. as he has on the DP World Tour.
No. 60 Christiaan Bezuidenhout hasn’t logged a top-10 on the PGA Tour since July and went 0-3-0 last year in Austin.
I predict Kitayama to move on to face No. 2 Jon Rahm in the quarterfinals. Rahm is a man on a mission to get back to world No. 1 and will not be stopped in this round.