WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Day 4 match recaps
Quick look at the quarterfinals and round of 16 matches at Austin Country Club
March 25, 2017
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- March 25, 2017
- Jon Rahm is in the semifinals after two wins on Saturday. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, Texas -- Match recaps from Saturday's Day 4 at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. The quarterfinals and Round of 16 are complete and the semifinals for Sunday morning are set:
DUSTIN JOHNSON, USA vs. HIDETO TANIHARA, Japan
JON RAHM, Spain vs. BILL HAAS, USA
DUSTIN JOHNSON (1), USA def. ALEX NOREN (8), Sweden ... 3 and 2
Johnson entered the match having led for all 60 holes he had played to that point. He then birdied the first to lead again and led for 10 more holes. But on his 72nd hole of the week -- and after losing his third straight hole of the match -- Johnson was finally back to all square. Of course, he then promptly birdied the next hole, the par-4 13th, with a 9-foot putt, then closed out the match with birdies at 15 and 16. Give Noren credit -- he pushed Johnson to the 16th hole the only player to do so thus far this week.
Said Johnson: "Obviously I won the first three holes, but then from there we were kind of back and forth. Like I said, I gave 10 and 11 away. Then he won 12, too. Got back to all square. So obviously it was a lot tighter than I would like to have been standing on 13 tee. But came back and birdied three of my next four holes and got the match."
Looking ahead: Johnson will play Hideto Tanihara in the semifinals on Sunday morning
Dustin Johnson's brilliant approach wins the hole at Dell Match Play
BILL HAAS (42), USA def. PHIL MICKELSON (14), USA ... 2 and 1
Haas led nearly the entire way in a match that was tight on the back nine until Haas made the last two of his seven birdies on the round. Haas now advances to the semifinals for the first time in 7 Match Play starts. He grabbed the quick lead with a 9-foot birdie putt on the opening hole, but gave it back with a bogey. But three birdies in the next four holes opened up the lead. A Mickelson birdie at the 10th and Haas bogey at the 12th reduced the lead to 1 up. But Mickelson's only birdie down the stretch -- at 16 -- was matched by Haas.
Said Mickelson: "He played really well. He made seven birdies today and that's going to be enough to do it. I had a number of chances to keep pace and match him on the front nine. I struggled making the putts that I have been making all week. That seemed to me to be the difference."
Looking ahead: Haas will play Jon Rahm in the semifinals on Sunday morning.
Bill Haas's smooth approach yields birdie at Dell Match Play
JON RAHM (21), Spain def. SOREN KJELDSEN (62), Netherlands ... 7 and 5
Rahm completed a near-perfect day of golf, jumping on Kjeldsen early and rolling to his most lopsided win of the week. In his two Saturday matches, Rahm played 27 holes, held the lead for 26 of them, won 14 holes and lost just one. Kjeldsen opened with a bogey after an errant approach shot on the opening hole, and Rahm took it from there. He birdied the third from 9 feet, the fifth from 3 feet and eagled the sixth from 5 feet . He was 4 up at the turn and then birded two of the next three holes to pad his lead.
Said Rahm: "The golf I've played the last three matches really has been very impressive even to myself, and it seemed to get better as I played, which is something that doesn't happen often. I felt my confidence was growing. The first few matches my putter let me down, but I was hitting the ball great. Today my putter was rolling. I think that's one of the main why I was able to do it the way I did it today."
Looking ahead: Will play Bill Haas in semifinals on Sunday morning
Jon Rahm's all smiles after a 7 & 5 win at Dell Match Play
HIDETO TANIHARA, Japan def. ROSS FISHER, England ... 4 and 2
The match was all square through five. Tanihara then birdied the par-5 sixth, beginning a stretch of four consecutive holes won. By the time he made the turn, he was 4 up and in command. His birdied at the 13th, from 6 feet, left him 5 up. Fisher birdied the next two holes but that's as far as his rally took him. Tanihara becomes the first player from Japan to reach the semifinals since Toru Taniguchi in 2001.
Said Tanihara: "My shot has been good this whole week. I knew it would come down to the putting. So I was just -- the putting was pretty good, so I'm happy."
Looking ahead: Will play Dustin Johnson in the semifinals on Sunday morning
Hideto Tanihara's impressive approach to No. 9 at Dell Match Play
ROUND OF 16 recaps
DUSTIN JOHNSON (1), USA def. ZACH JOHNSON (44), USA ... 5 and 4
Dustin Johnson led after every hole -- again -- as he used the same formula against Zach Johnson as he did in the group stage: Grab the quick lead and never let up. Dustin opened with a birdie to go 1 up and was conceded a birdie by Zach on the third hole. By the time he made the turn, Dustin was 4 up. A double bogey at the 11th -- his second double this week -- didn't even cost him the hole, as Zach suffered the same fate. Dustin then closed it out with back-to-back birdies. For the week, Dustin has led after each of the 60 holes he has played this week.
Said Johnson: "I guess I'm putting a lot of pressure on them. But I'm just playing pretty solid golf, not making any mistakes. Hit one bad shot on 11, but Zach's didn't go in, either. So we halved the hole there. That was nice. But other than that I played really well. Made a lot of birdies. Hit a lot of fairways. A lot of good shots into the greens. I just need to keep it in the fairways, keep hitting good shots and feel like I'm rolling the putter really well. If I can get them on the green, I feel like I can make them."
Looking ahead: Will play Alex Noren in the quarterfinals
Dustin Johnson's solid approach yields birdie at Dell Match Play
ALEX NOREN (8), SWEDEN def. BROOKS KOEPKA (20), USA ... 3 and 1
Noren -- fresh off an off-day Friday due to Francesco Molinari's WD -- set up a quarterfinal date with the top-seeded Dustin Johnson thanks to a mistake-free back nine. After setting up an early 20up lead though four holes, Noren let Koepka back in the contest with a double bogey on the par-5 6th. But Koepka couldn’t maintain the momentum, failing to get up and down on the par-3 7th to let the Swede take control. A 10-foot birdie on the par-4 9th gave Noren a 2up lead at the turn and birdie at 13 pushed the advantage to three holes. Koepka stayed alive with a birdie and win on the 14th but a missed opportunity from 6 feet on 15 was crucial and when he found the hazard on the 17th it was over.
Said Noren (regarding Dustin Johnson): "He probably hits it longer than I do, but this course, it's a lot to do with the wedges, the putting, the chipping. We'll see. He's a great player, obviously world No. 1. I'm looking forward to having a match against him. No expectations. See what I can do."
Looking ahead: Will play Dustin Johnson in the quarterfinals. Those two are the only two single-digit seeds left in the tournament.
PHIL MICKELSON (14), USA def. MARC LEISHMAN (28), Australia ... 4 and 3
Mickelson kept his chances alive for a first victory since the 2013 Open Championship with a clinical display over Leishman, last week's winner at Bay Hill. His quartefinal appearance is just his second in 13 starts in this event (he lost to Davis Love III in the quarters in 2004). Three birdies in the first six holes helped Mickelson forge a 2-up lead through seven, but the turning point came through 8, 9 and 10 as the Australian lost his rhythm and was quickly 5 down. Mickelson opened the door a little by losing the 11th and 12th holes but steadied the ship from there. In his four wins this week, he has yet to be stretched past the 15th hole. Not playing 16, 17 and 18 might be a challenge if Mickelson is pushed that far.
Said Mickelson: I'm certainly a little bit worried because I know there's going to be a key match that's going to go down to the last few holes And I'm not as comfortable on those holes as I'd like to be. But I love the fact that I'm able to be rested and ready to play because I think it's helping me get off to a good start."
Looking ahead: Will play Bill Haas in the quarterfinals. The two have never played each other in this event.
Phil Mickelson win match over Marc Leishman 4 & 3 at Dell Match Play
BILL HAAS (42), USA def. KEVIN NA (46), USA ... 1 up
Haas advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time, but it took the full 18 holes to get the result. In a tight battle with Na, Haas' short game and a reliable putter proved to be the difference down the stretch. He was a perfect 7-for-7 in scrambling, and made a critical 7-footer for par on the last to maintain his 1 up advantage. Going back to Friday's win over K.T. Kim, Haas has gone 38 consecutive holes without making a bogey.
Said Haas: "I think I made five birdies, no bogeys. Overall, in a stroke play event that would be very good. But Phil [Mickelson] is winning by big margins, so I'm assuming he's making a lot of birdies out there. I certainly can't be scrambling around if I want to beat him. Looking forward to it. He's a guy I look up to, so just to play him will be a lot of fun."
Looking ahead: Will play Phil Mickelson in the quarterfinals
JON RAHM (21), Spain def. CHARLES HOWELL III (61), USA ... 6 and 4
Rahm continued his strong play this week with a decisive victory that featured three birdies in a five-hole stretch on Nos. 10-14. The Spaniard was in control from the get-go, racing out to a 2 up lead in the first three holes with back-to-back birdies. Howell cut the lead to 1 up on the 6th but then watched Rahm win three of the next four holes. Rahm has now gone 24 consecutive holes without a bogey, and is a combined 8-under during the stretch.
Said Rahm: "This morning was definitely the best I played as a whole. The first few days I hit the driver really well the whole round and that's probably why I won. Today started a little shaky. I got birdies out of bad drives. The difference today is that I was making the putts. I was hitting everything good, not making really big mistakes but I made the putts. That's what the difference was."
Looking ahead: Will play Soren Kjeldsen in the quarterfinals.
Jon Rahm wins hole with a 20-footer at Dell Match Play
SOREN KJELDSEN (62), Denmark def. WILLIAM McGIRT (48), USA ... 5 and 4
With a day off Friday due to Gary Woodland's WD, the Danish destroyer looked well-rested in taking out McGirt, who had a nice run in his Match Play debut this week. Kjeldsen took advantage of McGirt’s mistakes around the turn to go 3-up and then didn't give an inch on the back nine. Birdies on 12 and 14 sealed the deal. McGirt was left to rue bogeys on 7, 8 and 9 and another at 12, leaving him well off the pace.
Said Kjedsen: "That was good. I played really well. After the day off yesterday, it was nice to come out and start with a birdie. I got straight back into the rhythm. I played really solid today."
Looking ahead: Will play Jon Rahm in the quarterfinals. Kjeldsen has played just 46 holes this week while Rahm has played 61.
ROSS FISHER (47), England def. BUBBA WATSON (13), USA ... 4 and 3
A back nine birdie blitz helped Fisher take down the big-hitting American and move into the quarterfinals. With the match in the balance through 10 holes – both players had held 1 up leads at various points – Fisher took control. Birdies on 11, 12, 14 and 15 stunned Watson and knocked out the two-time major winner. His putter was on fire – knocking in from 21-feet on 11, 13-feet on 12, and 17-feet on 14. The killer blow though came from a wedge as he holed out from the greenside bunker on 15.
Said Fisher: "A great way to finish. It was a tough match. I knew it was going to be tough. Bubba is a major champion, class player, threw everything at me. But fortunately my game from yesterday carried on to today."
Looking ahead: Fisher will play Hideto Tanihara in the quarterfinals
Ross Fisher wins match with a bunker hole out at Dell Match Play
HIDETO TANIHARA (54), Japan def. PAUL CASEY (12), England ... 2 and 1
Holding an 1 up lead with two holes to play after a birdie on the 16th, Tanihara closed out Casey on the 17th with a tee shot that landed 4 feet from the hole for birdie. When Casey's birdie opportunity from 12 feet spun out of the hole, Tanihara converted his short putt to end the match. The No. 54 seed from Japan remains unbeaten in his first Match Play start.
Said Tanihara: "Basically the wind was blowing the other way, so it was hard to judge the second shots and the pin positions were not easy. It was really hard to play. But I guess at the end I was able to get the two birdies and was able to win the match at the end."
Looking ahead: Tanihara will play Ross Fisher in the quarterfinals
Hideto Tanihara dials it in to win match at Dell Match Play