WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Day 3 recaps, group winners
March 24, 2017
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- March 24, 2017
- Jon Rahm (left) knocked off fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia to win Group 7. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, Texas -- Group play is over, and now it's on to single-elimination play starting Saturday at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Friday's group winners advance to the Round of 16 in the morning, with the quarterfinals set for Saturday afternoon.
Here's a look at Friday's matches, along with the group winner and his next opponent.
GROUP WINNER: DUSTIN JOHNSON (3-0-0)
Will play Zach Johnson in Round of 16
DUSTIN JOHNSON (1), USA def. JIMMY WALKER (18), USA ... 5 and 3
Johnson continued his hot hand, routing Walker in a match that was essentially over before it reached the turn. Johnson won six of the first seven holes -- two with birdies and one with eagle -- and cruised from there. He's yet to trail after any of the 46 holes that he's played, and has held a 6-up lead after just as many holes (four) as he's led 1 up.
Said Johnson: "I like match play, it's fun and it's exciting to watch. Yeah, I feel like I've got a little bit of an advantage just because I'm playing really well."
MARTIN KAYMER (41), Germany def. WEBB SIMPSON (58), USA ... 3 and 2
Kaymer needed a win and a Johnson loss. He did his part, leading the entire match, but didn't get any help from Walker.
Dustin Johnson sticks it from 106-yards at Dell Match Play
GROUP WINNER: SOREN KJELDSEN (3-0-0)
Will play William McGirt in Round of 16
SOREN KJELDSEN (62), Denmark ... DNP
Kjeldsen was credited with an automatic win due to Gary Woodland's WD.
RORY McILROY (2), Northern Ireland and EMILIANO GRILLO (26), Argentina ... halved
In a match with no tournament implications, McIlroy was 2 down after 14 holes but won the 15th (with a birdie) and the 16th (with a par) to draw even and eventually halve the match.
Said McIlroy: "It is odd whenever you have nothing to play for. I guess that's both of our faults. We didn't win our matches on the first day."
GROUP WINNER: MARC LEISHMAN (2-1-0)
Will play Phil Mickelson in Round of 16
Playoff: Leishman, who had the morning off, arrived at the course Friday afternoon and hit hit seven shots in his playoff to beat Lee Westwood and Pat Perez. Leishman saw his birdie chance at the par-4 first lip out, but his birdie from 12 feet found the cup on the par-4 second.
Said Leishman: "It was strange this morning not even knowing if I was going to be playing ... It was a nice surprise ... A lot had to go my way to even get a chance today."
LEE WESTWOOD (43), England def. PAT PEREZ (56), USA ... 2 and 1
Facing a win-or-go-home scenario, Westwood produced the goods with a bogey-free display. His six birdies were enough to hold off Perez, who was previously unbeaten. The key stretch was holes 11 through 13, where the Englishman put together three straight birdies to go 2 up. There were some nerves when he missed a chance to close the match out on the 16th from 2 feet but a par on 17 was enough. The result means the two square off, with Marc Leishman, in a three-way playoff.
MARC LEISHMAN (28), Australia ... DNP
Leishman was credited with an automatic win due to Jason Day's WD.
GROUP WINNER: ROSS FISHER (2-1-0)
Will play Bubba Watson in Round of 16
Playoff: Fisher birdied the second playoff hole to knock out last year's finalist, Louis Oosthuizen.
Said Fisher: "Can't rest now. I've got a big game tomorrow against Bubba. Early doors tomorrow. He's obviously playing well. I think he won all three of his games. It's going to be a lot of fun, looking forward to it. It's going to be a challenge."
ROSS FISHER (47), England def. JIM FURYK (51), USA ... 4 and 2
Fisher won the first two holes with birdies and never gave up the lead as he produced a bogey-free 16 holes to eliminate Furyk. Furyk was 4 down through 8, but tried to claw back. His eagle hole-out at the par-4 13th left him 2 down, but he lost the next hole with a bogey and lost the momentum.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN (23), South Africa def. HIDEKI MATSUYAMA (4), Japan ... 6 and 4
Oosthuizen got the win that put him in the playoff, easily beating Matsuyama, who had already been eliminated from weekend consideration. Oosthuizen built up his lead on the front nine with three birdies and some Matsuyama mistakes, taking a commanding 5 up lead through nine. Matsuyama won the next two holes, but Oosthuizen answered by winning the next three to close out the match.
Ross Fisher's winning putt in playoff at Dell Match Play
GROUP WINNER: HIDETO TANIHARA (2-0-1)
Will play Paul Casey in Round of 16
HIDETO TANIHARA (54), Japan def. YUTA IKEDA (37), Japan ... 3 and 1
Tanihara, thanks to his iron play, produced four consecutive birdies on the front side to take control and then wrapped up the win and the group stage in style with a birdie putt from 14 feet on his final hole. Ikeda, needing to make up group on the back side, could produce nothing more than a string of pars.
Said Tanihara: "I knew I had to win to get through, so I just needed to play really well."
JORDAN SPIETH (5), USA and RYAN MOORE (32), USA ... halved
Spieth and Moore each had their best performances of the week but in the end, it went for naught, as they halved the match and then were eliminated by Tanihara's win. Spieth was a bogey-free 6 under on his round that included an eagle at the par-5 sixth. Moore had seven birdies in a 14-hole stretch, the last one at 16 squaring the match.
Said Spieth: "I made some good progress the last couple of days ... All in all, I'm very, very happy right now going forward."
GROUP WINNER: KEVIN NA (2-1-0)
Will play Bill Haas in Round of 16
Playoff: Na defeated Matthew Fitzpatrick on the first playoff hole with a birdie.
Said Na: "It doesn't matter who you are in a playoff, you're going to be nerous. And my attitude going to this hole was play aggressive. Be aggressive."
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK (27), England def. JUSTIN THOMAS (6), USA ... 2 and 1
Fitzpatrick stunned Thomas with a late flurry of birdies to overcome the American and set up a chance to advance to the weekend. Staring down the barrel of elimination at 2 down through 13 holes Fitzpatrick reeled off four straight birdies to keep his hopes of a playoff alive. Three tight approaches on 14, 15 and 16 was capped off with a 16-foot birdie roll on 17 to close the deal.
CHRIS WOOD (49), England def. KEVIN NA (46), USA ... 2 and 1
In a sensational rollercoaster match, Wood surged back from a 4-hole deficit to deny Na straight passage into the weekend. A bogey-double bogey start sent Wood reeling and he was 4 down through seven holes before starting his rally. In an incredible turnaround, Wood won the next six holes in a row, reeling off three birdies and an eagle in the stretch. He went 3 up through 15 with another birdie before Na attempted a late rally with birdie on 16. But par on 17 was enough to seal the deal for the Englishman and force Na, who had controlled his own fate, into a playoff.
Said Wood: "Nice to get a point on the board. I've struggled in this event over the years without really playing that badly. Last year I played lovely for three days and lost every game. So you can come away from that feeling a bit more positive even though you've lost. But this week I've not played well. Really it took six or seven, eight holes this morning really to find some proper golf."
GROUP WINNER: JON RAHM (3-0-0)
Will play Charles Howell III in Round of 16
JON RAHM (21), Spain def. SERGIO GARCIA (7), Spain ... 6 and 4
In the battle between Spanish countrymen, Rahm pulled away down the stretch to win the group. He was 1 up through eight holes, but then won three of the next four holes with birdies. That first birdie, via 13-foot putt at the par-4 ninth, seemed to ignite him. His next birdie at the 14th came from the fringe, and then nearly found the green in two at the par-5 12th. Garcia lost the 13th with a bogey when his club slipped out of his hands during his tee shot and he found the water, and then conceded the final hole to end a disappointing day for him.
Said Rahm: "I'd rather not play a fellow Spaniard. Obviously, representing Spain, we want as many Spaniards to make it as far as possible. But worse came to worse, and luckily whoever won today was going to make it through. Out of that, at least we are happy that was going to happen."
Said Garcia: "Obviously Jon is playing well. It is nice to see at least a Spanish player going through. But it is disappointing because I played nicely yesterday. And today, I started so slow but then I got going. I didn't take the chances. I didn't take the chances I had. I made a couple stupid mistakes and got too far behind and Jon is not the kind of player that is going to give away holes. At the end of the day, you have to perform and if you don't do it then you get beat."
KEVIN CHAPPELL (38), USA def. SHANE LOWRY (53), Ireland ... 1 up
In a match that was all square through 17, Lowry bogeyed the 18th to lose the match.
Jon Rahm nearly jars the cup at Dell Match Play
GROUP WINNER: ALEX NOREN (3-0-0)
Will play Brooks Koepka in the Round of 16
ALEX NOREN (8), Sweden ... DNP
Noren was credited with an automatic win due to Francesco Molinari's WD
BERND WIESBERGER (36), Austria def. THONGCHAI JAIDEE (57), Thailand ... 1 up
Wiesberger ended with a hot stretch -- five birdies in his last seven holes -- to win a match that had no weekend implications.
GROUP WINNER: BROOKS KOEPKA (3-0-0)
Will play Alex Noren in Round of 16
BROOKS KOEPKA (20), USA def. PATRICK REED (9), USA ... 1 up
Once again, Koepka started off fast, taking the lead with a birdie on the first hole and never giving it up the rest of the way. Koepka is a cumulative 10 under on the first seven holes at Austin CC this week. He was 3 up through 14 before Reed made a late rally with consecutive birdies but he couldn't produce another one to square it.
Said Koepka: "When you play Patrick Reed you know you're going to be in for a good match. And 3-up with four to go, you kind of knew it was going to go to 18, because of the way he is. I enjoyed it and he played well."
KEVIN KISNER (34), USA def. JASON DUFNER (59), USA ... 2 and 1
Kisner did his part in beating Dufner, but needed Koepka to lose to force a playoff.
GROUP WINNER: CHARLES HOWELL III (2-1-0)
Will play Jon Rahm in Round of 16
Playoff: Howell won the bizarre sudden-death playoff against Rafa Cabrera Bello and Tyrrell Hatton on the fifth hole with a birdie from 4 feet. Hatton was eliminated on the first hole when he suffered a penalty after accidentally moving his ball out of position on the green and failing to place it back. Howell and Cabera Bello were left. Howell missed a short par putt that would have clinched at the par-3 fourth while Cabrera Bello got up-and-down to halve the hole with a bogey. Howell's approach on the next hole finished inside 4 feet, and he converted for the win.
Said Howell: "He went to tap the ball in and his putter hit the ball. Clearly that we saw that it happened. What we didn't know that had he moved the ball back to where it was originally, he could have played without a penalty. We didn't know the rule, I didn't know the rule to stop him in that case, when he went ahead and tapped it in."
Said Hatton: "I touched the ball, as I'm just putting the putter down, I just clipped the back of the ball and it just nudged it forward. Straight away you have to pull a penalty on yourself. Obviously a disappointing day for me to lose this morning, and have a great chance to go through to the last 16."
RAFA CABRERA BELLO (22), Spain def. TYRRELL HATTON (10), England ... 2 and 1
A three-hole stretch proved to be the difference for Cabrera Bello in a must-win match. In control for much of the morning, the Spaniard fell back to all square with Hatton on the 12th hole, but managed to take his lead right back with a birdie on the 13th and another on the 15th from close range to grab a 2 up lead. Cabrera Bello notched six birdies during the match.
Said Cabrera Bello: "When I went to bed last night, I was disappointed for not being able to get the half point with Charl [Schwartzel] yesterday which would have really helped me knowing that if I won this morning, I would be through. But I still felt in control of my destiny, knowing that if I won and then I won the playoff I can still make it."
CHARLES HOWELL III (61), USA def. JEUNGHUN WANG (40), Korea ... 2 and 1
Howell, playing his best golf of the week, advanced to the playoff with a bogey-free 17 holes. Howell posted back-to-back birdies on the front side to go 3 up but Wang -- who had been previously eliminated -- answered with two consecutive birdies of his own. But Howell's second shot to the par-5 12th finished inside 8 feet, and the eagle gave him enough breathing room.
Charles Howell closes it out in sudden death at Dell Match Play
GROUP WINNER: BILL HAAS (2-1-0)
Will play Kevin Na in Round of 16
Playoff: It took six sudden-death holes and a miracle chip, but Haas outlasted K.T. Kim after beating him earlier in their third-round match that forced the playoff. Haas was facing elimination on the second hole when he found trouble near the green. But he holed a chip from 41 yards out to stay alive. He then beat Kim with a birdie at the par-5 sixth.
Said Haas (about his chip): "When the ball is in the air, your first initial thought is it's over. Then again it was hooking enough off that right slope on the ride side of the fairway that I knew I was going to get to drop somewhere close to the green and at least make him two-putt is my idea. Halfway there when that ball was rolling, I said, I think I made it. That was sweet. ... It wasn't the prettiest of playoffs. A bunch of pars. Luckily he missed a couple of putts from me."
BILL HAAS (42), USA def. K.T. KIM (64), Korea ... 4 and 2
Needing to win to force a playoff, Haas -- the three-time Presidents Cup-winning American -- came home strong with birdies on 12, 13 and 16 to close out Kim. The South Korean had been the giant-killer of the tournament but the result left the pair locked on 2 points in the group and headed for a playoff.
DANNY WILLETT (11), England def. RUSSELL KNOX (17), Scotland ... 4 and 2
Scotsman Knox could have forced his way into a playoff to advance had he been able to take down the Masters champion, but Willett -- who entered the match having already been eliminated -- provided his first highlight of the week with a solid victory. Willett never trailed in the match and closed with three birdies in his last six holes to seal the deal.
Bill Haas chips-in to stay alive at Dell Match Play
GROUP WINNER: PAUL CASEY (3-0-0)
Will play Hideto Tanihara in Round of 16
PAUL CASEY (12), England def. CHARL SCHWARTZEL (24), South Africa ... 4 and 3
Ignited by a birdie putt just inside 30 feet, Casey sealed his group with with four consecutive birdies on the back nine to advance to the Round of 16 for the second time in three years. The Englishman trailed after the first three holes but won four of the next five to go 2 up and never trailed after that.
Said Casey: "I like this format. The group play has been really, really good the last two days. You know, we're only, what, now maybe three victories from getting into a final, which is hopefully get there. I've been there a couple of times before. I would dearly love to win this thing."
JOOST LUITEN (60), Netherlands def. BYEONG HUN AN (45), Korea ... 1 up
Luiten made three birdies in his last six holes to win for the first time this week.
GROUP WINNER: BUBBA WATSON (2-0-1)
Will play Ross Fisher in Round of 16
BUBBA WATSON (13), USA and THOMAS PIETERS (30), Belgium ... halved
Watson only needed a half-point to clinch the group, and though he trailed for the first time all week against the Belgium Bomber, he rallied with two late birdies to seal the halve. Watson had never trailed in his first 42 holes, but a bogey at the 10th put him 1 down to Pieters. But his 21-1/2-foot birdie putt squared the match at 14, then a birdie at the par-5 16th gave him the lead. Pieters birdied the next hole but couldn't convert a 30-foot birdie putt on the last to win.
Said Watson: "It's my first time getting through the bracket, so I'm happy. No, it will be fun. This is like the old days now, where you win and go home -- or go home if you lose. So it's fun. I'm guaranteed a top 16, so we're good."
JHONATTAN VEGAS (55), Venezuela def. SCOTT PIERCY (39), USA ... 3 and 1
Vegas needed a win to keep his chances alive. He got it, but it became moot when Watson won. Vegas held the lead for good after he birdied the par-5 sixth.
Bubba Watson's clever flop shot at Dell Match Play
GROUP WINNER: PHIL MICKELSON (3-0-0)
Will play Marc Leishman in Round of 16
PHIL MICKELSON (14), USA def. J.B. HOLMES (31), USA ... 6 and 5
Mickelson closed out the group stage with an impressive win over Holmes that moved his record to 3-0 for the week. Of the 42 holes he's played in the first three rounds, he's led after 41 of those holes. On Friday, Mickelson made just two birdies but found himself 4-up after the front nine against Holmes, who had previously been eliminated. Mickelson went on to win the next two holes and closed the match out on the par-4 13th. This is just the second time in 13 Match Play starts that Mickelson has advanced to play a fourth match in the week.
Said Mickelson: "To win the first three matches is a great start. This weekend will be difficult. Every match out here is difficult. The guys that play this weekend are obviously playing well because they won their groups. It will be a continued challenge heading into this weekend. I'm looking for to it. I'm excited. I haven't been to the weekend in match play in a long time. This is really been fun."
DANIEL BERGER (35), USA vs. SI WOO KIM (63), Korea
Phil Mickelson gets the job done at Dell Match Play
GROUP WINNER: WILLIAM McGIRT (3-0-0)
Will play Soren Kjeldsen in Round of 16
WILLIAM McGIRT (48), USA def. ANDY SULLIVAN (52), England ... 1 up
McGirt, making his Match Play debut, produced another solid effort to stay undefeated and win the group. With the match all square through 8, Sullivan bogeyed the ninth to hand McGirt the lead. McGirt's birdie from 7 feet at the 13th put him 2 up. With the halve and the group win secured going to 18, McGirt finished with a birdie, as did Sullivan.
Said McGirt: "Gosh, I hit so many good putts today, I could have been four or five up at the turn, just kept burning the edge. But played solid all day. Every time I got in trouble, got it up-and-down with a good shot. Just match play for you."
BRANDT SNEDEKER (19), USA def. BRANDEN GRACE (16), South Africa ... 5 and 4
Snedeker made three birdies in his first six holes and never looked back, winning his second match of the week to finish group play with a 2-1-0 record. Grace didn't make his first birdie until the 12th, and by that point Snedeker was already 4 up.
GROUP WINNER: ZACH JOHNSON (2-1-0)
Will play Dustin Johnson in Round of 16
ZACH JOHNSON (44), USA def. BRENDAN STEELE (50), USA ... 1 up
Johnson was 3 up at the turn and coming off his fourth birdie of the day. He was 2 up through 15 and close to clinching the group. But then things got dicey. Steele won the next two holes -- with Johnson losing 17 with a bogey -- to square the match. Steele overshot the green at 18, though, and suffered a bogey to lose the match.
Said Johnson (on facing Dustin Johnson): "I'm playing arguably the best player in the world right now. It is by rankings, and probably playing as good as anybody has ever played in the last month. I'm going to enjoy the challenge. Hopefully I've got my 'A' game tomorrow, I'll need it. I expect nothing less out of Dustin. He's on a roll."
MATT KUCHAR (16), USA def. TOMMY FLEETWOOD (29), England ... 4 and 2
Kuchar finally figured out the back nine at Austin Country Club, making five birdies to beat Fleetwood. It was Kuchar's first red numbers on the back nine this week.