Match recaps: Day 1 at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
March 21, 2018
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Austria's Bernd Wiesberger (left) defeated defending champ and top seed Dustin Johnson. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, Texas -- Recaps of all 32 group-stage matches from Wednesday's opening day of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. A few upsets (including the top seed), a Cinderella win (by the 64th and last seed) and some sizzling rallies were among the highlights from Austin Country Club.
BERND WIESBERGER, Austria (52) def. DUSTIN JOHNSON, U.S. (1), 3 and 1
It was a tough -- and shocking -- performance by the defending champ and the top seed. Johnson suffered three bogeys, two doubles and a quadruple 9 and was a cumulative 9 over for his round - and yet amazingly, he still had a chance midway through his back nine. After his double bogey at the 11th, Johnson was 2 down, but consecutive birdies squared the match. Just as it seemed he might pull out the unlikely comeback, Johnson bogeyed the 15th, then failed to match Wiesberger's birdie at the par-5 16th by missing a 6-foot putt. Johnson then missed the green at the par-3 17th and failed to convert the 8-foot par saver, ending his misery. In all, Johnson hit just 5 of 13 fairways and converted only one putt longer than 4 feet. Wiesberger made two birdies against four bogeys, which was good enough on this day. Johnson drops to 10-3 in matches at Austin Country Club and 14-10 all-time.
Wiesberger: "I thought it was the easiest game I could have -- I'm the underdog playing with the defending champion, so it was just try to go out there and see what happens. We both didn't have a great day, obviously, as you can see on the card. He gave away a couple of holes quite unexpectedly. You've still got to make the par when your opponent makes the bogey."
KEVIN KISNER, U.S. (32) and ADAM HADWIN, Canada (38), halved
A tight match throughout among 2017 Presidents Cup foes, with no player leading by more than a single hole. Kisner took the lead at the par-4 13th after sticking his approach to 5 feet. But his three-putt bogey from 9-1/2 feet at the 17th proved costly, allowing Hadwin to square the match going into 18. Neither player had a close birdie look, but Hadwin did have to make a 5-footer to save par and gain the half-point.
Total points: Wiesberger 1, Kisner 0.5, Hadwin 0.5, Johnson 0
Day 2 matches: Johnson vs. Hadwin, Kisner vs. Wiesberger
List sinks 18-foot birdie putt with his wedge at 15th hole.
JUSTIN THOMAS, U.S. (2) def. LUKE LIST, U.S. (60), 2 up
After bending his putter, List had to use a lob wedge to putt for his final 11 holes. Amazingly, he staged a rally late in the round before it fell short against the current FedExCup leader. List's troubles began after he bogeyed the 7th to fall 3-down. He swiped his putter at a bush, not realizing there was a brick wall behind it, and bent it to the point that it was unusable. But he holed out from off the green to win the 15th, then two-putted from 57-1/2 feet to birdie the par-5 16th and cut the deficit to 1-down. But Thomas put the match away at the 18th with a birdie.
Thomas: "I was thinking about it, how bad that would hurt if I couldn't get it done. ... When he started putting with the wedge, I don't know what happened, but I knew that it would hopefully make it easier on me. But it didn't."
List: "It bent a fraction of an inch, so unfortunately I couldn't use it the rest of the way. Stupid on my part."
FRANCESCO MOLINARI, Italy (21) def. PATTON KIZZIRE, U.S. (48), 3 and 1
Six birdies - three of them on par 5s - fueled Molinari's win over Kizzire, the two-time PGA TOUR winner this year. Kizzire eagled the par-4 fifth when he holed out from 95 yards to square the match, but Molinari took the lead with a birdie at the ninth and never trailed after that, with his final birdie at the par-5 16th putting him 2-up. He closed out the match when Kizzire double-bogeyed the 17th. Molinari hit an impressive 12 of 13 fairways and 15 of 17 greens.
Molinari: "We both played well. I'm really happy with the way I played. ... We kept exchanging birdies. It was a good match until the end, and obviously I'm glad I came out on top."
Total points: Thomas 1, Molinari 1, Kizzire 0, List 0
Day 2 matches: Thomas vs. Kizzire, Molinari vs. List
JON RAHM, Spain (3) and KEEGAN BRADLEY, U.S. (63), halved
Bradley had last year's finalist on the ropes after a sizzling stretch midway through his round. He was 2-up with three holes to play before bogeys at the par-5 16th and par-4 18th (an errant drive off the tee) let Rahm off the hook. Give Bradley credit for rallying after Rahm had jumped out to a 3-up lead with three early birdies. Bradley reeled off three straight birdies starting at the ninth, then eagled the 12th from 22 feet to grab the lead for the first time. He was 2 up after Rahm's bogey at 15 but couldn't make it stand up.
Rahm: "I probably played the first five holes about as good as you can play them. Didn't miss a single shot. … Man, he played some great golf. Hit a good shot on 10, made great putts on 11 and 12 and a couple of really closer ones. I feel like this match could have gone either way. "
KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT, Thailand (28) def. CHEZ REAVIE, U.S. (43), 3 and 2
Aphibarnrat grabbed the lead with birdies putts of 17 and 15 feet as he neared the turn, then held on from there in a rollercoaster performance from both players. Reavie was 1-down after his birdie at the 10th, but never applied any more pressure. Alphibarnrat parred five straight holes down the stretch until his final birdie at the par-5 16th sealed the outcome.
Aphibarnrat: "All you have to do is play better than your competitor. I was keeping myself at a better position. Never been behind all day. All square, 1-up, all square, 1-up, 2-up, whatever."
Total points: Aphibarnrat 1, Rahm 0.5, Bradley 0.5, Reavie 0
Day 2 matches: Rahm vs. Reavie; Alphibarnrat vs. Bradley
Spieth's key moment: Clutch approach at 13
JORDAN SPIETH, U.S. (4) def. CHARL SCHWARTZEL, South Africa (49), 2 and 1
It wasn't a thing of beauty, but the former University of Texas star never trailed. Schwartzel opened with two bogeys, but Spieth's second bogey of the round at the sixth hole squared the match. Schwartzel's bogey at the 12th when his approach found the water gave Spieth the lead for good, and that's when he stepped on the gas. Back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 - both birdie putts were inside 3 feet -- put him in command.
Spieth: "There will be instances where people will lose matches and advance out of group stage, but it's a win-or-go-home type situation in my mind. I got the job done today. Neither one of us played well on the front nine. I hit some solid shots there as we got to the middle of the back nine to build the lead up, which took some stress off for sure.
PATRICK REED, U.S. (19) def. HAOTONG LI, China (34), 3 and 2
Reed, like Spieth in the match ahead of him, never trailed but it was a spotty round at best for the American. He had just two birdies (against three bogeys) on the day, the first one from 11-1/2 feet at the par-3 seventh giving him the lead for good. The lead grew to 3-up without the benefit of another birdie, as Li -- making his Match Play debut -- suffered six bogeys on the round while hitting just 3 of 13 fairways and 6 of 16 greens. He did have one highlight, an eagle at the par-5 sixth.
Total points: Spieth 1, Reed 1, Schwartzel 0, Li 0
Day 2 matches: Spieth vs. Li; Reed vs. Schwartzel
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA, Japan (5) def. YUSAKU MIYAZATO, Japan (53), 2 and 1
Matasuya was nearly flawless in this well-played showdown between the natives of Japan. After pars on his first six holes, Matsuyama birdied seven of his last 11 holes; none of his birdie putts were longer than 11 feet. But Miyazato hung tough. He squared the match with a birdie at the 10th with a 39-foot putt. Matsuyama reeled off three consecutive birdies, the last two putting him 2 up after 13. But after Miyazato answered with a birdie at the 15th, Matsuyama put the match away with consecutive birdies. The two combined for 13 birdies, with Matsuyama playing bogey-free golf.
Matsuyama: "After a long layoff, I played last week, and didn't really hit it very well. But I really found my game today. It was a great day out there. And I sure enjoyed playing with my upper classman, Yusaku Miyazato, he made me feel relaxed and it was an enjoyable day of golf. And again, he played well. And I'm glad that I played well, too."
CAMERON SMITH, Australia (46) def. PATRICK CANTLAY, U.S. (30), 2 up
Both players were making their Match Play debuts and put on a solid show. Smith was 3 up after consecutive birdies on the 6th and 7th holes. The two exchanged birdies after the turn, leaving Smith still 3-up after 14 holes. But Cantlay closed the gap with birdies a 17-foot birdie at the 15th and a 9-footer at the 16th. Smith, playing bogey-free golf, would not provide an opening, and Cantlay eventually was finished with a bogey on the 18th.
Smith: "He went through a stretch there on the back nine, just kept making some nice putts. Put a lot of pressure on me. I was able to hold him out."
Total points: Matsuyama 1, Smith 1, Cantlay 0, Miyazato 0
Day 2 matches: Matsuyama vs. Smith; Cantlay vs. Miyazato
PETER UIHLEIN, U.S. (57) def. RORY McILROY, Northern Ireland (6), 2 and 1
Rory McIlroy looked like he did last Sunday … for a five-hole stretch. Outside of that, the Bay Hill winner could get nothing going, and his late rally was not enough to defeat the Match Play rookie who played bogey-free golf. Uihlein was 5 up through 10 holes, thanks to his three birdies and a couple of McIlroy stumbles. But starting at the 12th, McIlroy reeled off five consecutive birdies, including a 36-footer from the fringe at 14. But Uihlein matched two of those birdies and that was enough to shock the 2015 Match Play champ.
Uihlein: "I just kept putting pressure on him all day. And I felt like, especially on the front, I was always having a chance to win the hole with a putt. I think when you're able to do that in match play, you kind of control your fate or control how the match is going to go. You always feel like a guy like that -- really any player seems like out there, they're eventually going to make a run. You're going to trade blows little bit. And he landed some at the end. And I was able to kind of hold him off, which was nice."
McIlroy: "I made him earn it at least. I made the score line a little more respectable. I just came away a little flat. I didn't really necessarily play badly. He played pretty well. It was a few under through 9, and got down early and he didn't make a bogey all day, so it was hard to sort of claw my way back."
BRIAN HARMAN, U.S. (18) and JHONATTAN VEGAS, Venezuela (44), halved
Neither played led by more than one hole, as they each traded blows in a match that probably deserved to be halved. Harman's 16-foot birdie at the 11th put him 1-up and he continued to lead heading into the final hole. But Vegas' approach left him with a 10-footer and he drained it to earn the half-point.
Vegas: "He's a tough guy. Neither of us played great golf today, to be honest. At the end of the day, match play is about just beating each other. So we were going hard at it. None of us could have really made a putt to beat each other. The way we played, I think we're both okay with a half."
Total points: Uihlein 1, Harman 0.5, Vegas 0.5, McIlroy 0
Day 2 matches: McIlroy vs. Vegas; Harman vs. Uihlein
Sergio Garcia's unconventional birdie on the 12th hole
SERGIO GARCIA, Spain (7) def. SHUBHANKAR SHARMA, India (62), 1 up
Garcia was 1 down after bogeying the 13th hole, but he revved up his game down the stretch to pull out the win - his sixth consecutive Day 1 win in this event. He even did it without shoes for one shot, as he took off his metal spikes for his approach shot from the cart path at the par-5 12th. Garcia had five birdies in his final eight holes, and none of his birdie putts were outside 10 feet. His last three birdies were the difference - a 10-footer at 14; up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the par-5 16th; and his match winner from 8 feet on the final hole after getting out of the bunker with his previous shot. Sharma, the Match Play rookie, had three birdies on his round, but only one of them won a hole.
Garcia: "It was very tight. I did some good things, some not so good things. I kept myself in the game the whole way without my A game, I guess."
XANDER SCHAUFFELE, U.S. (20) def. DYLAN FRITTELLI, South Africa (41), 1 up
Last year's PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year bounced back from two late bogeys with consecutive birdies to claim the win in a battle of Match Play rookies. Schauffele got up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 16th to take the lead, then rolled in a 13-footer on the 17th with Frittell inside 6 feet on his attempt. On the 18th, both players missed birdie putts that would've won the match -- Schauffele from 21 feet, Frittelli from 11 feet.
Total points: Garcia 1, Schauffele 1, Frittelli 0, Sharma 0
Day 2 matches: Garcia vs. Frittelli; Schauffele vs. Sharma
JASON DAY, Australia (8) def. JAMES HAHN, U.S. (56), 4 and 2
Day, who won the 2016 title when Austin hosted this event for the first time, started strong and never gave up the lead. It was Day's first match since withdrawing a year ago due to his mother's health. Birdie putts of 30-1/2 feet and 17 feet helped put him 2 up through seven. He lost one hole to a bogey at the eighth, but his final birdie at the par-5 12th gave him some breathing room, then Hahn conceded the next hole after hitting two shots into the water. Day's Match Play record is now 22-9.
Day: "We were kind of trading blows back and forth on the front side. And I knew that 12, 13 were pretty big. I needed to go through there with some good, solid play. I made a birdie on the par 5, drove it up near the green, and unfortunately James gave me one there with a triple in the water. That was kind of nearly over the edge for him."
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN, South Africa (25) def. JASON DUFNER, U.S. (42), 1 up
Oosthuizen, who lost to Day in the 2016 championship match, survived Dufner's late rally. The South African was 3-up through 12 after back-to-back birdies. But starting with the 14th, Dufner won three straight holes to square the match. His eagle from 12-1/2 feet at the par-5 16th negated Oothuizen's birdie at that hole. But with momentum on his side, Dufner lost the par-3 17th with a bogey when his tee shot found the rough, and Oosthuizen matched Dufner's birdie on the final hole. Dufner missed just 1 of 14 fairways while Oosthuizen made two putts outside 21 feet.
Oosthuizen: "3-up, five to go, cruising sort of. I had one bad shot on 14 and misread the par putt to go 2-up. Then Jason nearly holed his second on 15 and made eagle on 16 which you can't really do anything against. I got fortunate on 17 that he was going first actually. I probably would have hit the same club as him and ended up going with a shorter club. And I think I had a pretty good shot on 18. I think it's my first time playing 18 if I'm not mistaken. I didn't know where the line was with the tee."
Total points: Day 1, Oosthuizen 1, Dufner 0, Hahn 0
Day 2 matches: Day vs. Dunfer; Oosthuizen vs. Hahn
Listen to the Match Play Ninja discuss his win
IAN POULTER, England (58) def. TOMMY FLEETWOOD, England (9), 3 and 2
He was described as a Match Play Ninja on Golf Channel … and Poulter showed why on Wednesday, knocking off his countryman in a match that was more about survival than theatrics. Poulter, the 2010 champ, was playing Austin Country Club for the first time. He was 2 over on his round through 11 holes but was 1 up going to the par-5 12th. He posted his only birdie of the round to extend his lead and won the 15th when Fleetwood suffered the fourth bogey of his round. Poulter is now 24-14 in his Match Play career.
Poulter: "Winning match play is always really pleasing. Tommy is a great player. I don't think either of us really holed any putts. I think I probably played just a little better than he did and obviously got it done. Yeah, it's nice."
KEVIN CHAPPELL, U.S. (33) def. DANIEL BERGER, U.S. (26), 3 and 2
In this battle of U.S. President Cup teammates, Chappell closed out the tight match with three consecutive birdies. Chappell had been 2-up through 11 but gave up the lead with consecutive bogeys. But he bounced back with a 5-1/2 foot birdie putt on 14, then a 4-footer on 15, his two approach shots proving to be the difference. Berger's drive at the par-5 16th found the fairway bunker, and Chappell ended the match with a terrific chip that left him a tap-in birdie.
Chappell: "I don't think either of us had our 'A' game today. But for me I'm fortunate to sneak away with a win… I was able to make six birdies in 16 holes we played, and birdied the last three. Found a little bit of momentum there towards the end. We definitely gave away more holes than we'd like to in match play. I guess that's the beauty of match play, you make a double and you're 1-down."
Total points: Chappell 1, Poulter 1, Fleetwood 0, Berger 0
Day 2 matches: Fleetwood vs. Chappell, Berger vs. Poulter
PAUL CASEY, England (10) def. RUSSELL HENLEY, U.S. (51), 1 up
Casey, the recent Valspar Championship winner, wasn't in top form but he managed to pull out the late win against Henley, who was making his first Match Play start since 2015. Henley was 2 up through 11 holes, but Casey birdied the par-5 12th to start his rally. After the two halved the 14th hole with bogeys, Henley bogeyed the 15th to square the match. At the decisive 18th, Henley found trouble off the tee when his ball hit a tree and went into the hazard. He had to take a penalty stroke and could not convert his chip from 28 feet to save par, conceding the hole - and the match - to Casey.
Casey: "It felt a bit flat. Nobody threw anything to the opponent. I feel a bit guilty to walk away with that one. But then again, I had made mistakes. It is what it is. Very, very happy to get the win."
KYLE STANLEY, U.S. (45) def. MATTHEW FITZPATRICK, England (31), 1 up
Stanley heated up late to win a match that for the most part was not very pretty. Stanley had three bogeys and a double in his first eight holes; Fitzpatrick suffered four bogeys in a five-hole stretch before the turn. They halved both the sixth and eighth holes with bogeys and Fitzpatrick won the seventh with a bogey. Stanley was 2-down after 13 holes, but Fitzpatrick doubled the 14th when he found the water. Stanley squared the match with a birdie at the par-5 16th, then won it by knocking his approach shot to 6-1/2 feet at the 18th. Fitzpatrick missed his birdie try from 16 feet.
Stanley: "Both of us were really just trying to hang in there on the front nine. It was pretty sloppy golf. … We knew pars were pretty good scores today. Nice to make a little comeback there at the end, at the very last."
Total points: Casey 1, Stanley 1, Fitzpatrick 0, Henley 0
Day 2 matches: Casey vs. Stanley; Fitzpatrick vs. Henley
JULIAN SURI, U.S. (64) def. MARC LEISHMAN, Australia (11), 3 and 2
Can someone say UMBC? Suri, the lowest-ranked player in the field who got his invite after Joost Luiten withdrew earlier this week, made the most of his tournament debut with a steady string of pars followed by a strong finish (reminiscent of UMBC's shocking NCAA tournament win over top-ranked Virginia). Suri was 2 up after his eighth consecutive par to start the match, as Leishman opened with two bogeys and spent the rest of the round trying to dig himself out. Suri was 1 up before rattling off his first two birdies at the 12th and 13th holes. He then closed out the match with a short birdie putt at the par-5 16th.
Suri: "I like to think I play my best with a little chip on my shoulder. A lot of people are saying congrats on being in the field. I don't think in any other tournament they would say congrats on being in the field. Obviously I was the last minute addition, I get that. I wanted to get off to a good start and I played really solid today."
BUBBA WATSON, U.S. (35) def. BRANDEN GRACE, South Africa (23), 5 and 3
Seven birdies in the first nine holes. That's how Watson opened his round, then placed it on cruise control to make quick work of the South African. Watson's putter was the key. He made an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 1, a 5-1/2 footer at No. 2, a 27-1/2 footer at No. 3 and a 25-1/2 footer at No. 4 to start the day. In all, Watson made 139 feet, 10 inches of putts in 15 holes played. Grace didn't play badly -- bogey-free 2 under in his first 14 holes -- but he never had a chance.
Watson: "Look at what McIlroy did last week. When you putt like that, you have a chance to win a golf tournament. So today the golf tournament was one day, one player I had to beat. Today I made the putts. Tomorrow he'll make the putts and maybe have a chance to win his match. So it was just today it was going my way. The greens were on my side."
Total points: Watson 1, Suri 1, Leishman 0, Grace 0
Day 2 matches: Leishman vs. Watson; Grace vs. Suri
TYRRELL HATTON, England (12) def. ALEXANDER LEVY, France (55), 3 and 2
Hatton never trailed after winning the opening hole with a par, as Levy could not overcome a sluggish start. Hatton was 3 up after five holes without a birdie; in fact, he didn't make his first birdie until the 11th hole when he rolled in a 6-footer. That again put him 3-up and he maintained that lead the rest of the way, avoiding bogeys and never giving Levy an opening to make a move.
Hatton: "I was trying to hit good shots today, which was the key. And kind of put the pressure on him. I feel like I played pretty solid today. It wasn't too windy, which was nice. It was nice going out there early today and sort of playing in calmer conditions. If I'm honest, I'd like it to stay that way the rest of the week."
BRENDAN STEELE, U.S. (36) def. CHARLEY HOFFMAN, U.S. (22), 1 up
Steele led the entire way and appeared to have the match in hand until Hoffman rallied late to force the issue to the final hole. Steele was 3-up after four holes and 4-up as late as the 12th hole when he matched Hoffman's birdie. But Steele's only bogey of the round cost him the 13th, and Hoffman then followed with a birdie to win the 14th. Steele answered back at 15, but Hoffman's birdie at 16 and a Steele concession at 17 closed the gap. Now 1-down, Hoffman had a chance to halve the match but missed his birdie putt from 17 feet. Steele hit 14 of 18 greens.
Steele: "I felt like I was playing so well, and then I was 4-up through 12. Then I made one mistake on 13 and we just kind of misjudged the shot and played the wrong shot and it spins back in the water, gave Charley this boost of energy. Then he goes and birdies the hardest hole on the course. Then all of a sudden you have got a bunch of stress. This is totally different situation than we're used to."
Total points: Hatton 1, Steele 1, Hoffman 0, Levy 0
Day 2 matches: Hatton vs. Steele, Hoffman vs. Levy
ALEX NOREN, Sweden (13) def. KEVIN NA, U.S. (61), 4 and 2
A tight well-played match turned toward the Swede late in the round thanks to a couple of Na bogeys. Each player had three birdies through the first seven holes and the match was squared through 11. But Na found the water with his second shot at 12 to lose the hole and failed to get up-and-down from the fairway on 14. When Noren, playing bogey-free golf all day, drained an 11-foot birdie putt at the 14th, he had a commanding lead and closed it out when Na conceded the next hole.
Noren: "It was nice. I played good today. He played good as well, and we had a great match going. And I'm happy to win it."
TONY FINAU, U.S. (29) def. THOMAS PIETERS, Belgium (39), 2 and 1
In the matchup of two big hitters, Finau led for the final 10 holes for the win in his Match Play debut. Finau, ranked No. 1 on the PGA TOUR in driving distance, averaged 317.6 yards off the tee; Pieters, ranked No. 16 on the European Tour, averaged 302.1 yards. The match was all square through seven holes, but a Pieters bogey when he missed a par putt from 4 feet opened the door. Finau twice bounced back from bogeys on the back nine with birdies to keep his lead, and Pieters failed to produce a birdie in his final 14 holes.
Finau: "Anything can happen -- that's the crazy thing about match play. I could definitely feel the momentum changes sometimes on some of those holes. I was happy to just finish the way I did."
Total points: Noren 1, Finau 1, Pieters 0, Na 0
Day 2 matches: Noren vs. Pieters; Finau vs. Na
CHARLES HOWELL III, U.S. (59) def. PHIL MICKELSON, U.S. (14), 3 and 2
Mickelson entered Wednesday having won his previous 10 matches in Day 1, dating back to 2003. But CH3 ended that streak with three birdies after the turn. A terrific approach at the 10th seemed to ignite him, as all three birdies were inside 13 feet. Meanwhile, Mickelson never heated up. His lone birdie came at the fifth hole; his lone bogey gave back a short-lived advantage; and he parred his final eight holes. The last person to beat him on Day 1 was John Cook in 2002. Mickelson is now 22-14 in his Match Play career.
Howell: "We were kind of back and forth early, nothing really good or really bad for either one of us. And then I made a birdie on 10. And then the one on 12, I think, really swung it a little bit in my favor. With that said, you're playing Phil Mickelson, you never know what might happen. I still expect him to roll three or four birdies in a row playing somebody like that. He makes you fight right to the end."
RAFA CABRERA BELLO, Spain (17) def. SATOSHI KODAIRA, Japan (40), 2 and 1
Cabrera Bello won the first hole with a bogey and never trailed as he looks to repeat his big run of two years ago when he reached the semifinals. The match was all square through 11 after Kodaira's lone birdie, but Cabrera Bello won the next two holes with birdies. He gave one back at the 15th, but Kodaira - making his Match Play debut -- bogeyed the next hole.
Total points: Cabrera Bello 1, Howell 1, Mickelson 0, Kodaira 0
Day 2 matches: Mickelson vs. Kodaira; Cabrera Bello vs. Howell
PAT PEREZ, U.S. (15) v. SI WOO KIM, Korea (50), halved
Perez, the top seed in his group, was 3-down after 11 holes but rallied down the stretch with four birdies to gain a half-point against THE PLAYERS champ. The comeback started when Perez birdied the par-5 12th while Kim found the water with his second shot. Perez won the next hole with a 13-foot birdie, but Kim's terrific approach set up a birdie at the 15th. It was his first birdie since winning the first two holes and it put him 2-up. But on his ensuing tee shot, Kim again found the water, and Perez took advantage with a birdie to win the 16th. A terrific tee shot set up a 4-foot birdie at the 17th as Perez squared the match. Kim had the best look at birdie at the 18th but couldn't convert the 11-foot putt that would've won the match.
Perez: "I made some bad holes (but) you know, it's match play. You just never know ... To have a putt in the end and now to look at it I could have won, that would've been unbelievable. But to halve the match is just amazing to me."
GARY WOODLAND (24), U.S. v. WEBB SIMPSON, U.S. (37), halved
Woodland led for 11 of the first 13 holes but some late stumbles and a clutch tee shot by Simpson resulted in a half-point for each American. Simpson was 3-down at the turn but he won the 10th with a birdie, then Woodland followed a bogey at the 13th by finding the water with his tee shot at the 14th, losing both holes to square the match. He regained the lead with a birdie at the 15th, but Simpson's tee shot to 2-1/2 feet helped square the match at the par-3 17th. Woodland missed a 19-1/2 foot birdie putt that would've won the match at 18.
Woodland: "When you are up, you don't want to give holes away; you want to make them earn it. Unfortunately, I gave two holes to him. ... All in all, I played solid. I'll take a half-point against him."
Total points: Perez 0.5; Woodland 0.5; Simpson 0.5; Kim 0.5
Day 2 matches: Perez v. Simpson; Woodland v. Kim
Matt Kuchar drains 35-foot birdie putt on 11th hole
MATT KUCHAR, U.S. (16) and ZACH JOHNSON, U.S. (54), halved
It was a birdie-fest between the two Americans, who combined for 15 birdies. The last four were by Johnson, who produced an incredible rally to earn the half-point. Kuchar was 4-up through 14 holes and just about to close the door after his seventh birdie of the day. But Johnson fought back. A birdie from 13-1/2 feet at 15. A birdie from 14 feet at 16. A birdie from 6 feet at 17. His approach at the 18th left him a tap-in to halve the match after Kuchar had led the first 17 holes. Johnson made nearly 82 feet of putts on his back nine.
Johnson: "I felt like I gave him a few holes, which is hard when you are playing with somebody like Matt Kuchar who doesn't make many mistakes. Technically he didn't make any mistakes the last four holes, I just got hot. So I feel fortunate. The bottom line is not like I should have won the match, necessarily."
YUTA IKEDA, Japan (47) def. ROSS FISHER, England (27), 2 and 1
Ikeda won his first match in six career attempts in a rollercoaster performance by both players. Ikeda opened with a bogey, double bogey and bogey in his first four holes and was 2-down. But he squared the match by the turn and grabbed the lead with a birdie with an 18-foot birdie at the 11th. Despite a couple of late bogeys, he never trailed after that, as Fisher struggled all day (5 over on his round). In all, the two players combined for 11 bogeys. Five holes were halved with bogeys.
Total points: Ikeda 1, Kuchar 0.5, Johnson 0.5, Fisher 0
Day 2 matches: Kuchar vs. Ikeda, Fisher vs. Johnson