WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Day 1 match recaps
March 22, 2017
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- March 22, 2017
- Big upset: Soren Kjeldsen knocks off No. 2 overall seed Rory McIlroy. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, Texas -- It was a day of upsets and tears among the top seeds Wednesday at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.
No. 2 seed Rory McIlroy and No. 5 seed Jordan Spieth lost, as did No. 3 Jason Day, who conceded his match after six holes and withdrew from the tournament. He fought off tears as he explained that his mother, who's diagnosed with terminal cancer, is having surgery on Friday. (Full story here.)
Check out the match recaps below from all 32 matches Wednesday. The 64 players in the field will compete in three rounds of group play, then the 16 group winners will advance to single-elimination play starting Saturday.
DUSTIN JOHNSON (1), USA def. WEBB SIMPSON (58), USA .. 5 and 3
The world's top-ranked player won the first three holes -- the first two with birdies -- and rolled to an easy win as he seeks to complete the WGC Slam this week. Johnson was practically flawless on Wednesday, with a bogey-free round that included six birdies. Simpson had four birdies, but he conceded two of his last seven holes after finding trouble. Johnson won his opening match for just the third time in nine starts in this event.
Said Johnson: "When you get up real early, you just want to keep the momentum on your side. You got the momentum so you want to keep it there. It's just important not to give holes away."
MARTIN KAYMER (41), Germany def. JIMMY WALKER (18), USA ... 3 and 2
All square through the front nine, Kaymer found another gear that Walker couldn't match to put away the reigning PGA champ. Kaymer took the lead for good with a 20-1/2 foot birdie putt at the 10th, and added four more birdies in the final six holes. Walker is now 1-6 in group play since the format was changed in 2015 while Kaymer is 4-3.
Thursday's schedule: Johnson vs. Kaymer, 12:20 p.m. ET; Walker vs. Simpson, 12:31 p.m. ET
SOREN KJELDSEN (62), Denmark def. RORY McILROY (2), Northern Ireland ... 2 and 1
The first big upset of the day came with the Dane taking down the 2015 champion thanks to a late charge. Kjeldsen sat 1 down with five to play but rattled off four straight birdies to put McIlroy away. His wedge game was on point down the stretch, hitting his last four approaches inside 9 feet, with the last three sitting inside 4 feet. McIlroy had previously fought back from being 2 down through 10 holes to take the lead at the 13th thanks to three straight birdies of his own but failed to hold on.
Said McIlroy: "I played well. If I had played anyone else, I might have won. Soren played great. I think I have to give him credit. He played really, really well from the first hole."
Said Kjeldsen: "He's such a great player, so I knew I had to go and play well. I had to focus on what I was doing and I played really well today. My mindset was if I go and shoot a good score, he has to play well to beat me. I obviously know he's capable of that, but I managed just to squeeze it in."
GARY WOODLAND (33), USA def. EMILIANO GRILLO (26), Argentina ... 3 and 2
The 2015 runner-up started poorly with a bogey and was 2 down through five holes against The Presidents Cup hopeful Grillo. But the American kicked his game into high gear from that point on with six birdies in his next nine holes helping to flip the momentum in his favor. An errant drive from Grillo on the 15th led to a bogey and ensured Woodland will head to his 2015 final rematch with Rory McIlroy on a high.
Said Woodland (about his 22-1/2 foot birdie putt on seventh hole): "It was the first time I seen a putt go in. I didn't make any in the practice rounds. I finally saw a putt go in. It opened the flood gates because I made quite a few putts coming in after that."
Thursday's Day 2 schedule: McIlroy vs. Woodland, 3:16 p.m. ET; Grillo vs. Kjeldsen, 3:27 p.m. ET
Soren Kjeldsen throws a dart to close out Rory McIlroy at Dell Match Play
PAT PEREZ (56), USA def. JASON DAY (3), Australia ... concession
Day pulled out of his match after six holes and withdrew from the tournament in order to be with his mother, who has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and is undergoing surgery on Friday in the U.S. Day revealed the news in an emotional press conference, saying, "It's really hard to even comprehend being on the golf course right now because of what she's gone through. ... So I just need some time away with her to make sure that everything goes well because this has been very, very tough for me. So I'm going to do my best and try and be there the best I can for her because she is the reason that I'm playing golf today. And family is first and it's just -- it's just a hard time."
MARC LEISHMAN (28), Australia def. LEE WESTWOOD (43), England ... 3 and 2
Leishman opened with a birdie after a terrific approach inside 3 feet and led the rest of the way as he looks to capitalize on the momentum from last week's win at Bay Hill. Leishman had his irons going Wednesday, hitting 14 of 16 greens. His only bogey was a three-putt at the fourth, but that didn't cost him, as Westwood also bogeyed. It was a tough start for the veteran, who bogeyed three of his first four holes and also double-bogeyed the ninth.
Thursday's schedule: Leishman vs. Perez, 1:59 p.m. ET
Jason Day cites family illness for WD at Dell Match Play
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA (4), Japan and JIM FURYK (51), USA ... halved
This was a hard-fought battle where both players missed opportunities to take the ascendency. With neither player taking more than a 1-up lead at any point and with a Furyk birdie on the 10th squaring things, the pair halved the last eight holes to share the spoils. Matsuyama failed to capitalize on good birdie looks at 13 and 16 and then only needed to make from 8 feet on the last for victory -- but he pulled the putt left. Furyk also had a decent birdie look on 13 and then lost 14 when he missed a 4-footer for par. He then had a chance to win the 15th from inside 6 feet and also the 16th from 11 feet but couldn't convert.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN (23), South Africa def. ROSS FISHER (47), England ... 4 and 3
A solid bogey-free round with three birdies helped last year's finalist start off this week in proper fashion. Oosthuizen found the green in two at the par-5 sixth for a two-putt birdie to win the hole, and he never trailed after that. He won the eighth with a birdie from 11-1/2 feet.
Thursday's schedule: Matsuyama vs. Fisher, 10:52 a.m. ET; Oosthuizen vs. Furyk, 11:03 a.m. ET
HIDETO TANIHARA (54), Japan def. JORDAN SPIETH (5), USA ... 4 and 2
Making his first appearance in this event, Tanihara scored one of the biggest upsets of the first day, dispensing the local favorite in 16 holes. Tanihara took a 1-up lead after 7 holes with a 15-foot birdie, and then won the 10th hole when he nearly jarred his approach shot. He would go on to win three of the next six holes. Spieth, who struggled for much of the match, birdied the opening hole -- and couldn't manage another birdie after that.
Said Tanihara: "I was looking forward to playing. I knew if I brought my 'A' game, I could probably compete against him. I wanted to see how a top player would play and I was just looking forward the whole day. Trying to win the whole tournament, you have to go through tough guys. So just happy to get this win."
RYAN MOORE (32), USA and YUTA IKEDA (37), Japan ... halved
Moore struggled to bring his best, allowing a plucky Ikeda to ride a rollercoaster all the way to a gutsy half. While Moore managed just two birdies, Ikeda put up four. Only trouble is he also had four bogeys. Sitting tied or behind through 13 holes, the Japanese star grabbed his first lead with birdie on the 14th but Moore counter-punched to win the next two holes. Staring down the barrel of a loss, Ikeda hit a stellar approach to inside 5 feet on the 18th while Moore overshot the putting surface. When he failed to chip in, Ikeda made no mistake.
Said Moore: "It was not that pretty. It wasn't really great golf on either side of it. He hit some bad shots, I hit some bad shots. We both made a few birdies. It was kind of scrappy. I guess it was a fitting end. I don't think either one of us played particularly well. I guess to halve the match in the end is kind of fitting."
Thursday's schedule: Spieth vs. Ikeda, 4 p.m. ET; Moore vs. Tanihara, 4:11 p.m. ET
JUSTIN THOMAS (6), USA def. CHRIS WOOD (49), England ... 2 and 1
Thomas, who lost all three of his matches last year in his first Match Play start, managed a win without having his best stuff. Thomas had four birdies and four bogeys on the day, and found himself 1 down through 13. But Wood bogeyed the 14th and Thomas birdied the next hole to take the lead. Wood then failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker at 17.
Said Thomas: "It was a grind. Neither one of us necessarily had our best stuff… I felt like I played better than my score would have shown if it was stroke play. But I got it done, so that's all that matters."
KEVIN NA (46), USA def. MATTHEW FITZPATRICK (27), England ... 5 and 4
Na took advantage of some early miscues by Fitzpatrick, then heated up in the middle of his round to take command. Na was 5 under during a five-hole stretch starting at the fifth hole. That includes an eagle at the sixth when his second shot finished inside 10 feet. Na was 5 up at the turn and never sweated on the back nine.
Said Na: "I played real solid today. Didn't make any mistakes. Applied a lot of pressure. It was one of those days that I could have played against anybody. I played so well. But it was nice to get off with a win the first day."
Thursday's schedule: Thomas vs. Na, 1:04 p.m. ET; Fitzpatrick vs. Wood, 1:15 p.m. ET
SERGIO GARCIA (7), Spain and SHANE LOWRY (53), Ireland ... halved
The last match that ended Wednesday came down to Lowry's par putt from 5 feet, 7 inches on the final hole. He missed it to the right to lose the hole and allow Garcia to escape with a half-point. It was not a great putting day for Lowry, who made just one putt outside 3-1/2 feet on his final 12 holes. Garcia made four bogeys in his first 10 holes and found himself 2 down, but he won two holes on Lowry bogeys on the back nine.
Said Garcia: "We didn't play great. We definitely didn't make anything, neither of us. I think we made probably two or three putts between the two of us. At least I think we both fought hard."
JON RAHM (21), Spain def. KEVIN CHAPPELL (38), USA ... 3 and 2
In a match that featured a combined 10 birdies, Rahm pulled away in the final five holes for the win. With the match all square after 11, Rahm got up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the par-4 11th to take the lead, then his his approach inside 3 feet at the 15th for another birdie. Just like earlier, Rahm got up-and-down again for birdie to close out the match.
Said Rahm: "It was great. What can I say? Birdie, birdie finish to win, right? To be honest, I had a lot of fun. I played a lot of good golf, barely missed any shots. I made a couple of mistakes, but this is match play, it's not going to be a perfect round. And honestly it was a better beginning to my tournament than I could have expected."
Thursday's schedule: Garcia vs. Chappell, 2:32 p.m. ET; Rahm vs. Lowry, 2:43 p.m. ET
ALEX NOREN (8), Sweden def. THONGCHAI JAIDEE (57), Thailand ... 3 and 2
Noren's 29-foot eagle on the par-5 12th -- the only eagle recorded on the hole during the first day -- propelled him to a decisive victory. Noren took the lead with an opening birdie and never trailed during a match that saw him record just 22 putts through 16 holes. Jaidee put himself in an early hole with three bogeys in his first eight holes and was never able to recover.
Said Noren: "I got off to a good start, which is nice. Then I had some trouble around the greens. Pretty tricky around here because the fringes are quite thick and the greens are rolling quite fast. I was very lucky on 12, par-5. I hit the hardest putt I ever hit that went in the hole, jumped up in the air. Probably would have been a hard two-putt. Won that hole. It's nice to finish it off."
BERND WIESBERGER (36), Austria def. FRANCESCO MOLINARI (25), Italy ... 2 up
Wieberger jumped out to an early 3-up lead after four holes but had to hang on for a hard-earned point. The Austrian birdied two of the first four holes to build a cushion, but Molinari roared back with back-to-back birdies on the 5th and 6th to cut the lead to 1 up. Wiesberger would eventually find his stroke on the back nine, recording three birdies over the final seven holes to close out the match.
Said Wiesberger: "I don't think it was a great match where you saw a lot of birdies. But we kind of avoided the mistakes, except for the odd one. And I think at the end of the day he kind of lost interest and I maybe holed a few more putts at the right time compared to him that could have changed the momentum of the game. I felt I was in control for the most part. I'm happy to get a win on the first day."
Thursday's schedule: Noren vs. Wiesberger, 11:36 a.m. ET; Molinari vs. Jaidee, 11:47 a.m. ET
PATRICK REED (9), USA and JASON DUFNER (59), USA ... halved
Reed and Dufner shared the spoils in a hard-fought match that featured six lead changes on the front nine. Reed would make back-to-back birdies on the 10th and 11th to grab a 2-up lead, but Dufner failed to go away, rolling in a key two-putt par on the 15th and a must-make birdie from 15 feet on the 17th that sent the match to the last. Both players would settle for par and a half-point.
BROOKS KOEPKA (20), USA def. KEVIN KISNER (34), USA ... 6 and 5
What a putting performance by Koepka, who ranks 22nd in strokes gained: putting on the PGA TOUR and is also one of the longest hitters. Of his seven birdies Wednesday, Koepka rolled in five putts outside 15 feet, including a 39-footer on the par-3 seventh. That capped off a start in which he made five birdies to put away the helpless Kisner, who won just two holes – both on Koepka bogeys. Koepka gave an indication of things to come when he made a 19-footer at the second and a 20-footer at the third. In all, Koepka made nearly 130 feet of putts in just 13 holes.
Said Koepka: "I putted really well. It's nice to be able to have putts for birdie. I haven't done that for the last month and a half or so. I made a lot of putts. Never felt like I was really out of the hole."
Thursday's schedule: Reed vs. Kisner, 11:14 a.m. ET; Koepka vs. Dufner, 11:25 a.m. ET
Brooks Koepka 38-foot putt wins the hole at Dell Match Play
TYRRELL HATTON (10), England def. CHARLES HOWELL III (61), USA ... 2 and 1
Hatton fell behind on the front nine, but drew even with a bogey at the 10th. Howell then found the water with his tee shot at the par-3 11th and conceded the hole. But then Hatton gave back the lead with a bogey on the next hole. Howell then suffered consecutive bogeys and could not recover from there. Hatton, making his Match Play debut, is coming off a T-4 at Bay Hill.
Said Hatton: "That was just bad out there today even by my standards. I shouldn't make excuses. I had a shocking night's sleep and just woke up and really bad mood and couldn't really settle myself down out there. You see the consequences of stuff like that. Hopefully I can be a little more patient tomorrow and get a better night's sleep."
RAFA CABRERA BELLO (22), Spain def. JEUNGHUN WANG (40), Korea ... 4 and 3
Cabera Bello was 1 up through 10 holes, then gave himself some breathing room with a 13-foot birdie putt at the 11th. Wang, making his first Match Play start, struggled with his putting late in the match. A three-putt at the 14th left him 3 down and then he found trouble with his approach on the next hole as Cabrera Bello closed out the match.
Said Cabrera Bello: "To be fair, i started a little nervous, a little streaky on the first hole really. Made a silly 3-putt. After that, it was pretty tidy."
Thursday's schedule: Hatton vs. Wang, 2:10 p.m. ET; Cabrera Bello vs. Howell, 2:21 p.m. ET
K.T. KIM (64), Korea def. DANNY WILLETT (11), England ... 4 and 2
Kim made one birdie and one double bogey -- and had a relatively easy time against the reigning Masters champ. Willett found trouble in the greenside rough on his opening hole and three-putted on the next hole to quickly fall behind. He won a couple of holes with birdies but lost four more with bogeys against the steady Kim, who is making his first start in this event in five years.
RUSSELL KNOX (17), Scotland def. BILL HAAS (42), USA ... 3 and 2
Even though he didn't make his first birdie until the ninth hole, Knox led for all 16 holes of the match. Haas opened with a double bogey and added another bogey on the third hole. Although he was bogey-free the rest of the way, the damage had been done, as Haas lost his opening round match for the first time since 2013.
Said Knox: "I was really happy the way I played today. I haven't been playing as well I would like recently. I came out today and drove the ball beautifully."
Thursday's schedule: Willett vs. Haas, 12:42 p.m. ET; Knox vs. Kim, 12:53 p.m. ET
CHARL SCHWARTZEL (24), South Africa def. BYEONG HUN AN (45), Korea ... 6 and 5
An was actually 1 up through 4 -- and then completely fell apart. He bogeyed four of the next five holes. Schwartzel then followed with his second birdie of the round, and by then was 4 up. Overall, An was 7 over on his 13 holes, a disappointing day for one of last year's group winners. Schwartzel has now won four straight first-day matches in this event.
Said Schwartzel: We both played fairly rough in the beginning -- he gave me a hole. I gave him a hole. We were up and down. And then I found my feet. I started playing really solid and bringing a lot of pressure. Applying that much pressure I got it done."
PAUL CASEY (12), England def. JOOST LUITEN (60), Netherlands ... 2 and 1
The cagey Casey improved to 21-12-1 all time in this event. Neither player had their best stuff with just four birdies between them – Casey had three. Sitting 1 down through six holes, the Englishman hit it tight on the par-3 seventh to square the match and was 2 up at the turn courtesy of a Luiten mistake and another birdie. But he gave up his advantage through 14 holes and could have easily been headed for defeat had Luiten not made a mess of the 15th.
Said Casey: "I think the key was I putted much better than I have been in past weeks. I feel like that's really coming around. I love this format. I think it's cool. We grew up playing a lot of match play. All the British kids know how to play it well. It doesn't mean anything, but at least we know how to play it."
Thursday's Day 2 schedule: Casey vs. An, 3:38 p.m. ET; Schwartzel vs. Luiten, 3:49 p.m. ET
BUBBA WATSON (13), USA def. JHONATTAN VEGAS (55), Venezuela ... 1 up
Watson led 16 of the 18 holes in a tight match that wasn’t decided until the final hole when Vegas, needing birdie, failed to hole a 17-footer. Vegas found himself 2 down through the first two holes, but clawed back, squaring the match with a birdie at the seventh. But a bogey by Vegas and birdie by Bubba from 11-1/2 feet on the next two holes provided Watson with some breating room. But Vegas squared the match again at the 12th with a birdie. Watson had the final blow, though, on the next hole. Another putt from 11-1/2 feet gave him the lead for good.
Said Watson: “It's try not to make too many mistakes. You eliminate the mistakes, let the other guy make the mistakes or whatever, try to hang on. That's what I did today.”
THOMAS PIETERS (30), Belgium def. SCOTT PIERCY (39), USA ... 3 and 2
Pieters is a favorite for plenty to make a deep run this week but it took some help from Piercy for the Belgium bomber to triumph. Pieters won five holes in the match but only once did it come from a birdie of his own. Piercy had two double bogeys and two bogeys to make it very tough on himself. Pieters managed just three birdies of his own and will need to lift his game for his next start.
Said Pieters: "I started off pretty well. I birdied three on the front nine and then got weak on the back nine. Scott gave me a couple of holes, I gave him a couple of holes. The back nine was not so good, but the front nine I played really well."
Thursday's schedule: Watson vs. Piercy, 10:30 a.m. ET; Pieters vs. Vegas, 10:41 a.m. ET
PHIL MICKELSON (14), USA def. SI WOO KIM (63), Korea ... 5 and 3
For the 10th consecutive start, Mickelson won his opening match in this event, never trailing after winning the second hole with a bogey. He won the next hole with a par, as Kim struggled early. Mickelson went 4 up after birdies at the sixth and seventh holes, the latter on a putt from 13 feet. Kim settled down after his shaky start but couldn't get anything going after that.
DANIEL BERGER (35), USA def. J.B. HOLMES (31), USA ... 7 and 5
Berger fashioned a roller-coaster start into a 3-up lead through six holes and then never let his foot off the gas. Berger had one eagle three birdies and two bogeys in his first six holes. The 48-foot putt for eagle at the sixth was the key blow as it negated Holmes' only birdie of the day. Berger then made three birdie putts inside 8 feet on the back nine.
Said Berger: "I switched irons this week and went to a blade. I was having trouble keeping the ball down in the wind. Obviously, it was windy today and I didn't have trouble. It was a really good adjustment."
Thursday's schedule: Mickelson vs. Berger, 1:26 p.m. ET; Holmes vs. Kim, 1:37 p.m. ET
Phil Mickelson shuts the door on Si Woo Kim at Dell Match Play
BRANDEN GRACE (15), South Africa def. ANDY SULLIVAN (52), England ... 4 and 2
The big momentum swing likely came at the par-3 seventh. Grace, 1 up at the time, found a greenside bunker with his tee shot while Sullivan had a 10-footer for birdie. But Grace holed out for birdie and Sullivan missed his putt, leaving him 2 down. Grace gave one back at the next hole with a bogey but never gave up the lead. He birdied three holes and had two other birdie attempts on par 5s conceded. It was the South African's first Day 1 win in this event after losing on opening day in his four previous Match Play appearances.
Said Grace: "From 9 onwards, I played really solid. I think I was 5 under from there on in. You don't really give the other guy any chance to breathe or try to do anything."
WILLIAM McGIRT (48), USA def. BRANDT SNEDEKER (19), USA ... 2 up
In a match that featured a combined 6 birdies and didn't see either player go more than 1 up in the match through 17 holes, McGirt waited until the end to make his move. Sitting 1 down after 14 holes, McGirt made par on the 15th to square the match and then birdied the 16th to grab his first lead over Snedeker. McGirt would add an 11-foot birdie on the last.
Said McGirt: "I struggled all year with my game. I haven't hit it very well. Haven't driven it very well. Haven't putted it very well. I've managed to kind of get through it. That's all today was, was kind of managing it and taking advantage when you had some opportunities."
Thursday's Day 2 schedule: Grace vs. McGirt, 2:54 p.m. ET; Snedeker vs. Sullivan, 3:05 p.m. ET
MATT KUCHAR (16), USA and BRENDAN STEELE (50), USA ... halved
Sitting 2-down with four to play after back-to-back bogeys, Steele managed to right the ship and earn a half-point with the help of a putter that warmed up at just the right time. Steele birdied the 16th to cut into Kuchar's lead, and then squared the match with another birdie from 18-feet on the 17th.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD (29), England def. ZACH JOHNSON (44), USA ... 1 up
Fleetwood never trailed, but it still took the Englishman 18 holes to defeat the seasoned match play veteran. Holding a 1-up lead for much of the front nine, Fleetwood bogeyed the ninth and then had to birdie two of the next three holes to keep the match all square. The driver would ultimately prove to be the difference-maker, as Fleetwood's 347-yard poke on the 18th landed just short of the green, setting up a 34-yard pitch that landed next to the hole for a birdie and the full point.
Said Fleetwood: "I can get it close, at times you've got to take it on. [The second shot on 18] wasn't the easiest chip up and over the ridge. Like I say, the chip was probably the best shot I hit all day. To see that go, that's very nice."
Thursday's schedule: Kuchar vs. Johnson, 11:58 a.m. ET; Fleetwood vs. Steele, 12:09 p.m. ET