Match recaps from Friday: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
25 Min Read
Capsule look at all completed matches from Day 3 of group play at Austin Country Club
Written by Staff @PGATOUR
The World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play is back. Friday's third round is the third of three days of group play. After Friday, the player with the best record in each of the 16 four-man pools will advance to knockout play (ties of two or more players will be broken via sudden-death playoff). Two rounds apiece will be played Saturday and Sunday to crown a champion.
This is the only PGA TOUR event where players go mano-a-mano, and Austin Country Club is a perfect site for this format thanks to its offering of risk-reward holes.
Upon the conclusion on Friday's 32 matches and any sudden-death playoffs, 16 players will advance to weekend competition, where knockout play will commence Saturday morning in the Round of 16.
As each group concludes its competition, this file will be updated to keep you apprised of the action from the TOUR’s only match-play event. Return here often to learn about the latest upsets, comebacks and nail-biting finishes.
SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER ADVANCES
Scottie Scheffler (3-0-0) def. Tom Kim (1-2-0), 3 and 2
The world No. 1, current PLAYERS champion and defending WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play champion rolled through the group stage unblemished. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Kim needed a victory to get into a playoff with a chance to advance, and he came out guns blazing with birdies on the first two holes to take a 2-up lead. But Scheffler won three of the next four holes and took a lead that he’d never relinquish. Kim got a bad bounce on the par-4 13th when his ball ricocheted off the stands and into the water. Although he still tied the hole with a par, that’s a hole, at a crucial point of the match, that he easily could’ve won without the mishap. He later made bogey on the 15th to hand Scheffler the hole and a guaranteed tie at that point, which was all Scheffler needed to officially move on to the Round of 16.
Alex Noren (0-2-1) tied Davis Riley (1-1-1)
After mediocre play by both for the first two-thirds of the match, they both turned it on and started playing well down the stretch. The only problem was that by that point, Scottie Scheffler had already won his match over Tom Kim, meaning Riley had no shot to advance even with a victory. Noren was already eliminated. Still, Noren was 2-up with four holes remaining and Riley rattled off a birdie and an eagle to tie it all up. They tied the last two holes to end the match tied. Noren had a birdie putt from 13 feet on the last to win outright but it just slid left.
BILLY HORSCHEL ADVANCES
Billy Horschel (2-0-1) def. Jon Rahm (1-2-0), 5 and 4
Horschel entered Friday very much in control of this high-wattage group, and the Florida Gator chomped right along against the world’s second-ranked player, punching his ticket to the Round of 16. Horschel went 1-up with a winning par on the second hole and maintained a lead throughout, as Rahm struggled to find a rhythm and failed to record a single birdie on the day. Horschel made just one bogey – the par-5 sixth, which brought Rahm back within 1-down – but the spirited 36-year-old pulled away with winning birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, and a 21-foot birdie at the par-4 14th sealed the deal in emphatic fashion. Horschel will face Cameron Young on Saturday morning.
Jon Rahm suffers unlucky penalty, still ties hole at WGC-Dell Match Play
Rickie Fowler (2-1-0) def. Keith Mitchell (0-2-1), 1-up
This match ultimately proved of little consequence to the overall bracket, as Fowler needed help from Rahm that didn’t come, but it didn’t stop these two fun-loving pros from putting on a show for the Austin faithful that came down to the final hole, where Fowler got up-and-down with a 6-footer to match Mitchell’s par, tie the hole and win the match. Mitchell never led in the match but hung around to the final hole; a highlight came at the par-5 16th, when Fowler drained a winning 18-foot eagle and then playfully picked up Mitchell’s mark.
Rickie Fowler makes eagle on No. 16 at WGC-Dell Match Play
RORY MCILROY ADVANCES
Rory McIlroy (3-0-0) def. Keegan Bradley (1-1-1), 3 and 2
McIlroy electrified the golf world Thursday evening with a 375-yard drive to 3 feet at the finishing hole to secure a match win over Denny McCarthy, and the world No. 3 didn’t show any signs of a mental hangover in Friday’s face-off against a former Ryder Cup foe in Bradley. The Northern Irishman used birdies at Nos. 4 and 5 to build a 2-up advantage, and the New England native could draw no closer. McIlroy knew entering the day that winning this match would punch his ticket to the Round of 16, and he did just that, making birdie at No. 15 to build a 3-up advantage and closing the match by matching Bradley’s birdie at the par-5 16th. McIlroy proceeds to knockout play and will face Lucas Herbert on Saturday morning.
Rory McIlroy wedges it close to set up birdie at WGC-Dell Match Play
Scott Stallings (1-2-0) def. Denny McCarthy (0-2-1), 1-up
Both players had been eliminated from contention to advance prior to teeing it up Friday, but the duo put on a show regardless at Austin CC, particularly on the back nine. Stallings, who didn't trail at any point in the match, matched McCarthy's birdie at the par-5 12th to maintain a 2-up lead, and after McCarthy punched back with a winning birdie at No. 13, Stallings holed out for eagle from 129 yards at the par-4 14th to regain that 2-up edge. McCarthy drained a 7-foot birdie at the par-5 16th to win the hole, but after matching pars at the 17th, McCarthy's wedge approach on 18 came up short in the greenside bunker, and he could not make the requisite birdie to win the hole and tie the match.
PATRICK CANTLAY ADVANCES
Patrick Cantlay (3-0-0) def. Brian Harman (2-1-0), 2 and 1
This time, a chance to win group play didn’t quite slip away for Cantlay. Harman’s feistiness was on full display, but it wasn’t enough to wrestle things away from Cantlay. Dodging danger when Harman missed putts at No. 15 (9 feet for birdie) and No. 16 (8 feet for eagle) that could have dramatically altered the match, Cantlay took command when he had the chance. He converted his 12-footer for birdie at 16 to apply pressure to Harman (who missed for eagle to remain 1-down), then he stuffed a wedge to 7 feet to birdie the 17th and seal his first win in group play in his fifth visit to this championship.
“We had three different weathers today,” said Cantlay. “It was windy and rainy. Then it was calm and perfect. Then it got windy and sunny.”
True, all of that. But there was just one level of play and it was terrific – spare for the bad bogey at the par-5 12th by Cantlay. It was match play, though, and only cost Cantlay one hole. He remained 1-up and matched Harman with birdies at the 13th and 16th to keep that lead. The missed birdie hurt Harman at 15, of course, but Cantlay didn’t make that same mistake at 17 and so he’ll move on to where he’s never been, despite playing nicely in this championship.
Patrick Cantlay makes birdie on No. 10 at WGC-Dell Match Play
Nick Taylor (1-2-0) def. K.H. Lee (0-3-0), 3 and 2
Say this about the Canadian, his debut in this championship wasn’t hindered by power, but by lapses in precision at the wrong time. There were nine birdies in the first round; only three bogeys in the last 10 holes cost him against Patrick Cantlay. In a Thursday loss to Brian Harman, Taylor never really recovered from two bogeys and a double bogey on his front nine. But in the Friday finale, Taylor had it all working in an efficient thumping of another first-timer here. Both players had been eliminated, but Taylor at least left on a positive note with yet another fine offensive showing (six birdies in 16 holes, including four of the last five) and his tightest all-around effort (just one bogey).
MAX HOMA ADVANCES
Max Homa (3-0-0) def. Hideki Matsuyama (1-2-0), concession
Unable to compete Friday due to a neck injury, Matsuyama conceded his match to Homa, who entered the day unbeaten in group play and thereby advances to the Round of 16. Homa beat both Justin Suh and Kevin Kisner by 3-and-2 margins on the tournament’s first two days. Matsuyama beat Kisner, 1-up, on Wednesday but lost to Suh on Thursday. Matsuyama could have forced a playoff with Homa by defeating him in Friday’s match. “Yeah, I feel bad Hideki is hurt, obviously,” Homa said. “That stinks. It's nice for me, bogey-free round, but yeah, it's honestly pretty nice to get some rest and get ready for the weekend because it's obviously quite a bit of golf. Would have rather played, but I'll take it as a quasi-win.”
Kevin Kisner (1-2-0) def. Justin Suh (1-2-0), 2-up
Homa had already secured the group’s Round of 16 berth, but the Kisner-Suh duo battled it out to the final hole regardless. Kisner didn’t have his best stuff this week, but in the event’s farewell playing, it was fitting that the longtime Austin CC specialist bid adieu in style. With the match tied at the par-3 17th hole, Kisner drained a curling 28-foot birdie to win the hole, and when Suh couldn’t make birdie on 18, the spunky South Carolinian had authored one final match victory, improving his sterling WGC-Dell record to 23-9-1.
XANDER SCHAUFFELE ADVANCES
Xander Schauffele (3-0-0) def. Tom Hoge (0-3-0), 1-up
A topsy-turvy match that produced a little bit of everything saw Schauffele get the break of all breaks with two holes remaining. Hoge was 2-up after four holes, but then it went back and forth until the par-3 17th hole, where Hoge held a 1-up lead. Hoge hit his tee shot pin-high but it was a little left and his ball landed inside a red penalty area, although it was playable. Schauffele then stepped up and flew the green long and left; his ball took an enormous bounce off a rock that was inside a red penalty area. It flew high into the air, landed back in bounds behind the green and rolled toward the back of the green. Schauffele got up and down from there, Hoge did not from his position and they were tied heading to the home hole, where Schauffele converted a birdie from 13 feet to win and, surprisingly, advance to the Round of 16 for the first time in his career.
Xander Schauffele wins his match over Tom Hoge on No. 18 at WGC-Dell Match Play
Cam Davis (2-1-0) def. Aaron Wise (1-2-0), 1-up
Both men entered the day at 1-1 and with a chance to advance out of the group stage, depending on how Xander Schauffele fared. It was a nervy match and neither played their best golf, which actually made for an entertaining match that was close the whole time. Davis birdied No. 13 to tie the match, where it would remain until the last hole, where the Australian drained a 12-footer for birdie to win. He only led after holes 1, 2 and 18. However, with four holes remaining, Schauffele had already defeated Tom Hoge to go undefeated and punch his ticket to the Round of 16, so both men played down the stretch knowing their weeks were over.
ANDREW PUTNAM ADVANCES
Andrew Putnam (3-0-0) def. Harris English (1-2-0), 4 and 3
With Ryan Fox waiting in the wings to see if his 2-1 mark would be enough for a playoff, Putnam shut the door on that scenario with a smooth performance against English, jumping out to a 3-up lead through five holes and not allowing the Georgia Bulldog to move closer than 2-down at any subsequent juncture. The Pepperdine alum Putnam made his hay around the turn with three consecutive birdies on Nos. 9-11, staving off English birdies on 9 and 10, and winning the par-3 11th with a 22-foot birdie to go 4-up. Putnam closed the match with a two-putt par at No. 15, as English made bogey.
Andrew Putnam sinks a 21-foot birdie putt at WGC-Dell Match Play
Ryan Fox (2-1-0) def. Will Zalatoris (0-3-0), concession
Unable to compete Friday due to illness, Zalatoris conceded his match to the New Zealander Fox, who defeated Harris English in Wednesday's opening round, 2 and 1, before falling to Andrew Putnam in Thursday's second round, 2 and 1. Zalatoris had fallen to both English and Putnam. Fox, making his first Match Play appearance, remained in contention to advance to the Round of 16, awaiting the fate of the English-Putnam match; a victory by English would mean a three-way playoff. Putnam had a win-and-in scenario to advance.
MATT KUCHAR ADVANCES
Matt Kuchar (2-0-1) def. Si Woo Kim (2-1-0), 7 and 6
Want a stunning way to consider the breadth of Matt Kuchar’s elite level of golf? It was 25 years ago at the Masters when he finished T21 and easily was low amateur, his entrance to Augusta having been opened by the 1997 U.S. Amateur title. Want a stunning way to measure the way in which he has maintained his skills? How about this demolition of Si Woo Kim, who at 27 is 17 years younger? In sealing his group title and advancing to the Round of 16 for the ninth time in 12 appearances at the WGC-Dell Match Play, Kuchar played methodically solidly and kept building on his lead thanks to four consecutive bogeys by Kim (Nos. 5-8). Given that he has such a stellar record in this championship (Kuchar won in 2013 and at Austin CC has finished second in 2019 and third in 2021), the nine-time PGA TOUR winner knew he didn’t have to do anything extraordinary, but playing bogey-free with four birdies in 12 holes was quite a way to mark yet another forward march in a format he loves. Kuchar tied Tiger Woods for most match victories at the WGC-Dell (36) in the process.
Matt Kuchar converts tee shot to 7-feet at WGC-Dell Match Play
Viktor Hovland (1-2-0) def. Chris Kirk (0-2-1), 4 and 3
When you own a U.S. Amateur trophy for match-play brilliance on a course as renowned as Pebble Beach, well, every failure in this format must sting. Chances are, Hovland might concede that he never recovered from the poor start against Matt Kuchar Wednesday and struggled to find any sort of rhythm. Hovland followed with a 3-and-1 loss to Si Woo Kim, meaning the Friday endeavor against Kirk was strictly for pride. On that note, consider it a positive day for the Norwegian as he played stress-free golf – four birdies, zero bogeys – and made fairly quick work of the American. While Kirk birdied the par-3 fourth for a 1-up lead, Hovland made his first birdie at the fifth, tying the match, then he went ahead for good when he won the seventh with a par. Kirk played his next eight holes in 3-under, Kirk was 1-over on that stretch, and it came to an end with matching par 4s at the 15th.
JASON DAY ADVANCES
Jason Day (3-0-0) def. Collin Morikawa (1-1-1), 4 and 3
One of Friday's better matchups put a resurgent Day, a former world No. 1, against Morikawa, a two-time major champion and former world No. 2, competing to advance to the Round of 16. Day birdied three of his first four to move out to an early 2-up advantage. Morikawa stiffed an approach to 3 feet at the fifth (1-down), but he missed from 4 feet at No. 6 to tie the match. Day's bonus 58-footer for birdie at the 10th forced Morikawa to make from 10 feet to stay 2-down. Day's ball-striking was sharp. He won the par-3 11th with an approach to 6 feet and went 4-up with another birdie at 12, where Morikawa pitched across the green, into water, with his third. Day won the Match Play in 2016, but this is his first time advancing through his group since then. He improved his record to 26-16-0 overall.
Victor Perez (1-2-0) def. Adam Svensson (0-2-1), 5 and 4
Both players came in winless in their opening two matches and with no shot at advancing, and Perez was the guy off to a hot start. Four birdies in his first seven holes helped to build a 4-up lead over Svensson, a first-time TOUR winner last fall at The RSM Classic. Svensson made a couple of birdies early in the back nine to cut the deficit to 3-up, but Perez would answer with birdies at 13 (11 feet) and 14 (5 feet) to close out the match. Behind them, the Collin Morikawa-Jason Day match would decide who would move on from the group.
KURT KITAYAMA ADVANCES
PLAYOFF: Kurt Kitayama def. Adrian Meronk (second extra hole), Tony Finau (first extra hole)
Kurt Kitayama's third-day, 4-and-3 victory over Tony Finau resulted in a three-way playoff (Kitayama, Finau, Adrian Meronk) to decide who would advance from the group. Finau drove it into the left fairway bunker at the first playoff hole (No. 1), and hit his second long of the green, into tall grass, leading to a double bogey that eliminated him. Meronk hit a great drive but poor wedge, leaving 28 feet; he made a 5-foot par putt to stay in the playoff. Kitayama had a 19-footer for birdie, but barely missed left. He and Meronk moved on to another hole, the par-4 second, where Kitayama rolled in a 21-footer for birdie. Meronk was closer, but his putt drifted left, and Kitayama, who earned his first TOUR victory earlier this month (Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard), advances to face Andrew Putnam on Saturday.
Kurt Kitayama sinks 20-foot birdie putt at WGC-Dell Match Play Playoff
Kurt Kitayama (2-1-0) def. Tony Finau, (2-1-0)
At 2-0-0, Finau controlled his own fate, advancing with a win. But Kitayama jumped out fast, leading 3-up through four holes. He birdied Nos. 2 and 3 and won the fourth with a par. Finau made six birdies in each of his first two matches, but he struggled to make them on Friday. Kitayama rolled in a 20-foot birdie at the par-3 11th to push his lead to 4-up, and a 14-foot birdie at 15 secured the match, leaving Kitayama, Finau and Adrian Meronk headed for a playoff to decide a pool winner.
Adrian Meronk (2-1-0) def. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (0-3-0), 5 and 4
Meronk parlayed three birdies with two late bogeys by Bezuidenhout on the front nine to construct a 5-up lead through eight holes. Meronk was steady, making five birdies in his first 12 holes, and had the match in hand throughout. The victory earned Meronk a spot in a three-way playoff alongside Tony Finau and Kurt Kitayama. Bezuidenhout, who played nicely last fall in his two matches at the Presidents Cup, finished his week without a win.
J.J. SPAUN ADVANCES
J.J. Spaun (3-0-0) def. Min Woo Lee (1-2-0), 2 and 1
Spaun was one of the bigger surprises in group play, sweeping his three matches to advance. Seeded 61st, he needed only a tie against Lee to get through, but it was a tough match. A short birdie putt at 14 by Spaun sent the match to the 15th tee tied. Spaun then hit a nice approach below the hole at 15 and made the birdie to take a lead. At 16, the par-5, Spaun hit a beautiful approach but missed his 13-footer for eagle. He finished in style. Needing two putts to assure a match tie at 17, he made a 15-foot left-to-righter for birdie, ending the match with his fourth consecutive birdie. This week marked the first time Spaun has competed at the WGC-Dell Match Play. Lee went 1-1-1 a year ago.
J.J. Spaun wins match over Min Woo Lee on No. 17 at WGC-Dell Match Play
Sahith Theegala (1-2-0) def. Matt Fitzpatrick (1-2-0), 2 and 1
Fitzpatrick, last summer's U.S. Open champion, needed to win to have any chance of advancing, but he went 1-down after hitting his tee ball into the water at the short 14th. Theegala struggled throughout his first two matches, but he fought hard Friday, making four consecutive birdies starting at the 11th. Theegala came up big at the 527-yard 16th, where he ripped a long iron from 251 yards that landed softly and rolled to 4 feet to set up eagle. Fitzpatrick made birdie but slipped to 2-down. Fitzpatrick had a 14-footer to extend the match at 17, but he missed.
MACKENZIE HUGHES ADVANCES
PLAYOFF: Mackenzie Hughes def. Taylor Montgomery on first extra hole
After forcing a sudden-death playoff in convincing fashion, Hughes wasted no time in punching his ticket to the Round of 16, taking advantage of Montgomery's pop-up drive at the par-4 first hole in overtime. The Canadian thumped a drive to flip-wedge distance, with the subequent approach to 5 feet. Montgomery's third shot from behind the green skitted into a front greenside bunker, and when his fourth shot came up short, the group was conceded.
Mackenzie Hughes (2-1-0) def. Taylor Montgomery (2-1-0), 6 and 4
Montgomery had cruised to a perfect record the past two days and, while it’s not a surprise that he lost – because Hughes also has a chance to advance to the Round of 16 – the margin of the defeat is a surprise. Perhaps Montgomery, a PGA TOUR rookie, simply ran out of gas, as he made two bogeys and one lone birdie all day. While Hughes made two bogeys, he also made six birdies in just 14 holes. Oddly, Hughes was only 2-up after nine holes, but the match quickly got out of hand when he won the next three straight holes and four of the next five. The consolation? Both men now head into a playoff to determine who advances. Shane Lowry was already eliminated and Jordan Spieth needed an outright victory over Lowry to join them, which did not happen.
Shane Lowry (1-2-0) def. Jordan Spieth (1-2-0), 2 and 1
Hand it to Lowry, he had absolutely nothing to play for, other than pride, and he came out and took down Spieth, preventing him from advancing out of the group stage. Now, Spieth didn’t exactly put up a fight early either as he was 2 over par after nine holes and 5-down. It’s almost as if it wasn’t until then that he realized he needed to step it up, which he did. Spieth won Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to snatch momentum and feel like an epic comeback was possible, but holes 14 and 16 were tied with birdies and when Spieth found himself 2-down with two holes remaining, he officially was eliminated from advancing, which he has only done once in the last six years.
SAM BURNS ADVANCES
Sam Burns (3-0-0) def. Seamus Power (1-2-0), 2-up
When you have a great friend (Scottie Scheffler) who is doing wondrous things at the biggest tournaments, you don’t want to miss your opportunity to prove that you’re quite capable in your own right. Standing toe-to-toe with a very formidable foe (these lads combined for 11 birdies and made just one bogey each), Burns punched his way into the Round of 16 with an emphatic finish at Austin CC’s closing three holes. Locked in a tie and knowing Power had about a 5-footer for birdie at the par-5 16th, Burns made his 12-footer to remain deadlocked. He then made a 27-footer at the par-3 17th to go 1-up and finished things in style with another birdie at 18, this time from 6 feet. Power had used his explosiveness to birdie Nos. 5-6-7, but on this day, that was trumped by birdies at 16-17-18. Still, Burns cited the 13-footer he made for par to tie the eighth and stay just 1-down as the turning point, coupled with winning the ninth to square things.
“Other than one hole (a bogey at the par-3 11th that gave Power the lead), I felt like I didn’t really give him anything,” said Burns. “Other than that, I feel like I kept myself in it.”
Adam Hadwin (1-2-0) def. Adam Scott (1-2-0), 3 and 2
There are those times when you can never lead until you win the 18th hole of your match. Scott’s first-day triumph over Seamus Power is an example of that. But you cannot expect to make a steady recipe of that, as Scott discovered in his second-day loss to Sam Burns (who won the 18thto take the match, 1-up) and this third-day contest with the Canadian. Across three days and a total of 52 holes, Scott led for just one hole. Losing the first hole to Hadwin’s birdie, Scott fell 3-down and Hadwin went birdie, birdie at the fifth and sixth. Scott made his first birdies at 12 and 13, only they were matched each time by Hadwin. The Canadian’s lone win of the championship was sealed when he took the 15th with a par and matched Scott’s birdie at 16 to account for the final.
LUCAS HERBERT ADVANCES
Lucas Herbert (3-0-0) def. Ben Griffin (1-2-0), 3 and 1
Funny game, this golf. Two weeks ago, Lucas Herbert of Australia was slamming his trunk in Ponte Vedra Beach after shooting 82-85 at THE PLAYERS, and this season he has one finish inside the top 50. But he found something in Austin, sailing to a 3-0 record to sweep his group. In his first eight holes against Griffin, Herbert birdied half of them, moving on top, 4-up. Griffin did not go easily. With birdies at 9 and 12, Griffin cut the deficit in half, and the two staged a nice show on the way in. Griffin cut the lead to 1-down with his fourth straight birdie, converting a 9-footer at 15. But a 20-foot curling putt for eagle at 16 (2-up) ensured that Herbert would do no worse than a tie, and would be advancing to Saturday, where he will face Rory McIlroy. Herbert ended in style with a birdie at 17.
Lucas Herbert buries electric eagle at WGC-Dell Match Play
Russell Henley (2-1-0) def. Tyrrell Hatton (0-3-0), 3 and 2
Henley, one of eight Georgia Bulldogs in the starting field, played like a bulldog against Hatton. He trailed through six holes, but he slowly got things turned around and steadily kept increasing his lead once he got it. Henley hit approaches to 6 feet and 5 feet, respectively, at 14 and 15 to stretch his lead to 3-up. He would birdie his final three holes, in fact, winning on the 16th green. Hatton, who had played well in the Florida Swing, finished up a tough week with a record of 0-3. Henley kept his hopes alive before Lucas Herbert (2-0-0 into the day) made a curling eagle putt on 16 to win the hole in his match against Ben Griffin, securing a tied match at worst and hence winning the group.
CAMERON YOUNG ADVANCES
Cameron Young (3-0-0) def. Sepp Straka (0-3-0), 5 and 3
This match was as lopsided as it appears. Young put the finishing touches on a perfect week so far and advances out of the group stage after going 1-2 last year in his maiden Match Play appearance. On Friday he opened with four consecutive birdies and was 4-up in a flash. The lead was extended to 5-up after 11 and then when Straka couldn’t made birdie on 15 he conceded the hole and the match was over. Straka was winless on the week and is now 1-5 in the event over the last two years. Young made six birdies in 15 holes and has now collected 18 birdies in the three days along with two eagles. He’s quietly playing as well as anyone in Austin and now will face match-play maestro Billy Horschel.
Corey Conners (2-1-0) def. Davis Thompson (1-2-0), 2 and 1
The penultimate match remaining on the course Friday, and when Cameron Young won his match ahead a few holes earlier, Conners and Thompson knew they were not moving on to the weekend in Austin. Thompson was 4-down after five holes and made bogey on five of his first nine holes. He made two birdies and an eagle in a five-hole stretch late, but he had dug too deep of a hole to overcome. Conners only recorded four birdies and two bogeys, and somehow the match made it to the 17th hole even though it was not nearly as close as the result indicates.
J.T. POSTON ADVANCES
J.T. Poston (3-0-0) def. Maverick McNealy (0-2-1), 3 and 1
Ah, yes, through comfortable leads or dogged comebacks, the Postman surely is in delivery mode. Having put himself in position to control his own destiny with wins of contrasting degrees (never trailing in Round 1, needing to rally in Round 2), Poston finished undefeated in group play by throwing a crisp, bogey-free round with five birdies at McNealy. The 17th is as good a place to start with Poston’s surprising story this week, because not only is that where he stuffed a wedge to 7 feet to birdie and clinch against McNealy, but it is also where a stunning hiccup occurred Thursday to provide Poston with a chance to beat Sungjae Im. Poston had trailed against Im since the second hole when his rally kicked into high gear – a birdie at 15 to get within one, a birdie at 16 to tie, and Im’s three-putt bogey put Poston in the lead for the first time. By polishing off Im at the 18th, then taking care of business against McNealy, the unheralded kid from Hickory, North Carolina, and Western Carolina University was moving on.
J.T. Poston sends in 26-footer for birdie at WGC-Dell Match Play
Sungjae Im (2-1-0) def. Tommy Fleetwood (0-2-1), 4 and 3
Whatever hope he had for looking ahead was soured every time Im looked behind. The leader of his group, J.T. Poston, was taking care of business against Maverick McNealy, so Im’s hopes of a possible playoff faded with every hole. Yet the young man from South Korea went about things against Fleetwood in a manner that defines his personality – determinedly. Staked to a 2-up lead on a pair of early bogeys by Fleetwood, Im heated up with three birdies and led by 3-up at the turn. Im would maintain his comfortable lead, but unfortunately for him, so, too, would Poston.