Match recaps from Thursday: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
March 25, 2021
By Staff , PGATOUR.COM
- March 25, 2021
Highlights from Day 1 at WGC-Dell Match Play
Day 1 of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship delivered.
There were plenty of upsets, as Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland all lost their opening matches.
They’ll be looking to dig themselves out a hole, while Cinderellas like University of Texas alum Dylan Frittelli and Antoine Rozner will try to keep busting brackets.
This file will be updated live at the conclusion of each match 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.
ADAM LONG (1-1-0) def. KEVIN NA (0-2-0), 2 and 1
Long birdied three of the first six holes to take a 2-up lead. Na, who made the quarterfinals here in 2019 and the round of 16 in ’17, didn’t make a birdie as he shot 3 over on the front nine and Long extended his lead to 3-up. Na continued to struggle on the back nine, failing to birdie the driveable, par-4 13th from just under 7 1/2 feet as Long extended his lead to 4-up with five to play. He bogeyed 14 and Na eagled the par-5 16th hole to cut the lead to 2-up, but Long closed it out with a birdie (and near ace) on 17.
DUSTIN JOHNSON (1-0-1) tied ROBERT MacINTYRE (1-0-1)
Scotland’s little-known MacIntyre made the World No. 1 work really hard for the tie, as Johnson trailed 2-down with three holes to play. Johnson twas 1-down with two to play after canning an 11-footer for eagle at the 16th. There was a great match play exchange at 17; Johnson hit it 17 feet past the hole and made the slick putt; MacIntyre hit a shot to 12 feet, but his birdie attempt barely stayed out. MacIntyre made par at 18; Johnson had one last shot at victory, but his 22-footer up the hill for a winning birdie failed to drop.
MacIntyre said: “You know, he holed putts when he had to hole putts. He does that to win numerous majors. I'm young. I've got plenty of time ahead of me. Obviously I was dying to win that match. I was in such a great position to do it. But he threw everything at me, and I can be proud of finishing there all square … but obviously inside I'm a little disappointed not to win.”
KEVIN KISNER (2-0-0) def. JUSTIN THOMAS (0-2-0), 2 and 1
Kisner, the 2019 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play champion, rolled to his eighth consecutive match win in this event, taking down World No. 2 Justin Thomas. Kisner birdied the second and third holes and by the time he reached the eighth hole, he was 4-up, and Thomas pretty much was in shock. Thomas would battle back as the winds started to pick up on the back nine. He birdied the 11th, won the 12th with a par, and added another birdie at 13, where he hit a tee shot that finished just off the green on the 285-yard hole. Kisner got one hole back with a nice up and down for birdie at 16, and when Thomas three-putted the 17th for bogey, the match was over.
Kisner said: “When the wind picked up on the back nine, I was struggling to hit some greens and he started making some birdies. You knew he wasn’t going to lay down the whole match, he is too good of a player. I’m glad I was able to fend him off. I don’t think either one of us played our best.”
MATT KUCHAR (2-0-0) def. LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN (0-2-0), 1-up
This turned out to be a pretty wild match; through 15 holes, only four of the holes were tied (including the par-3 11th, where the players tied with doubles). Kuchar missed a short birdie putt at 16 to keep from going 2-up and held Oosthuizen off with pars at the two closing holes. Kuchar is a proven force in this format, improving his Match Play mark to 30-10-4, and on Friday, Kuchar, the 2013 Match Play champion, gets a return shot at Kevin Kisner, who defeated him in the final two years ago. Both are 2-0.
Kuchar said: “Amazing how different today played than yesterday. That’s kind of the cool thing about golf, the cool thing about Austin Country Club, how things can change. Today, it felt like survival.”
JON RAHM (2-0-0) def. SHANE LOWRY (0-2-0), 2-up
Rahm was trailing through six holes, but won the seventh with a par and made birdie-3 at the ninth to take a 1-up lead. Rahm built his lead to 4-up when he stuffed a wedge in close for a conceded birdie at the par-5 12th and knocked in a 17-footer for birdie at the 15th to lead 3-up with three to play. Lowry, the 2019 Open champion, hung tough, sandwiching Rahm's birdie at 15 with birdies of his own at 14 and 16. Lowry had 8 feet at 17 for birdie to extend the match and made it. At 18, Lowry hit an incredible shot from the right hillside to 12 feet, but couldn’t convert the putt. Rahm’s 11-footer down the hill was conceded.
RYAN PALMER (2-0-0) def. SEBASTIAN MUNOZ (0-0-2), 2 and 1
The day’s final match pitted a player who last was here when the Match Play was single elimination (the 44-year-old Palmer) taking on a first-timer in Munoz. Munoz won Nos. 4, 5 and 6 to turn a 1-down deficit into a 1-up advantage, but Palmer won the eighth and ninth with pars to regain the lead. Munoz went ahead with birdies at 12 and 13, but Palmer again won 14 and 16 with pars to head to 17 leading 1-up. Munoz had the shorter birdie putt at 17, but Palmer went first, and rolled in his 15-footer. Munoz needed to make from 12 feet to force one more hole, but missed on the low side.
MAX HOMA (1-1-0) def. COLLIN MORIKAWA (0-1-1), 2 and 1
Battle of the Cal Bears began with the duo tying the first hole with birdies, but each fought his game at times in a topsy-turvy battle. Homa bogeyed Nos. 2-4 to fall behind, but Morikawa’s ball-striking – which Homa has likened to a robot – failed him as he double-bogeyed the eighth and 11th holes to let Homa back into the match. Homa birdied the par-5 12th to go 1-up, and they stayed that way until the par-3 17th hole, where Morikawa pulled his tee shot into the hazard, effectively ending the match. Morikawa was 2 over through 17 holes. No one in the group is unbeaten, and Homa can ensure at least a playoff to get out of the group with a victory over group leader J.T. Poston on Friday.
J.T. POSTON (1-0-1) def. BILLY HORSCHEL (1-1-0), 4 and 2
Poston, the highest-seeded player in his group, won the 11th hole with a par and birdied the 12th on the way to a 4-up lead over Horschel. Horschel managed only two birdies through 16 holes. Poston, a rookie in this event, said he had not played a match play event since college.
Poston said: “It was one of those rounds, one of those matchups, where I don't think we really had our best stuff. We definitely gave each other some easy wins throughout the match, but I felt like I did a pretty good job of staying aggressive and just trying to win holes when I had my chances and I was able to do that.”
TOMMY FLEETWOOD (1-0-1) def. ANTOINE ROZNER (1-1-0), 4 and 3
Day’s 1’s darling, Frenchman Rozner, was no match for the steady Fleetwood on Friday. Fleetwood won three of his four winning holes on the opening nine with pars, and added a birdie at the par-4 fifth. He led 3-up after nine, then stretched it to 4-up when he sank a 14-foot birdie putt at the 11th. Rozner birdied the short 13th, but had trouble getting much going in the wind.
Fleetwood said: “I think I played really, really well, really, really solid. Just managed to stay up in the whole match, obviously out there my putting didn't feel the greatest, so I kind of just had to knuckle down and feel like if I could just use my ballstriking to my advantage, then that would make the difference today. And you have days like that, I guess.”
BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU (1-1-0) def. SI WOO KIM (0-1-1), 2 and 1
The long-hitting DeChambeau bounced back from Wednesday’s loss with a solid win over Kim, who had DeChambeau 1-down heading to the 14th hole. There, DeChambeau poured in a 26-footer for birdie to tie the match, made a nice par save (up and down from 35 yards) at 15 to go 1-up, and made a matching birdie from the right greenside bunker at 16 just to keep applying the pressure. When Kim’s tee shot spun into a penalty area left of the 17th green, victory was DeChambeau’s.
DeChambeau said: “It was kind of a weird day for me. I made a lot of birdies, for sure, but just a lot of weird scenarios. I felt like I was playing good golf and and there were just things that were occurring that I could’t explain. I hit a good drive on 12 and got right up in the face of the bunker … I don’t know, a weird day.”
XANDER SCHAUFFELE (1-0-1) def. JASON DAY (0-2-0), 2 and 1
Schauffele led for most of the match. He moved to 2-up at the 11th with a 10-footer for birdie set up by a beautiful tee shot, but Day would win the next two holes and tie the match. The match was level into 16, where Shauffele two-putted for birdie and Day missed from 13 feet. At 17, they faced birdie putts within an inch of one another (Day was 11 feet, 3 inches, and Schauffele one inch closer). Day had to putt first, showing the line, and Schauffele then rolled in his birdie to win the match.
Schaufele said: “I don't want to speak on Jason's behalf, but I'd say it was a bit of a pillow fight early. If you look at the scores, we were trading off with some 4s and 5s and 5s and 6s. We cleaned it up a little bit at the end, which was nice I think for both of us, but yeah, it's match play. I came out on top, and that's kind of all that matters.”
SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER (1-0-1) tied ANDY SULLIVAN (0-0-2)
A day after handing away what should have been a win against Xander Schauffele (he was 3-up with eight holes to play), Sullivan won the last two holes to flip his match with Scheffler and earn a tie for the second consecutive day. Sullivan made a nice birdie at 17, and won the 18th with a par after Scheffler came up short with his second shot, leading to bogey. Scheffler's 16-footer for par and the win never threatened the hole. Sullivan faced a must-make on the 17th hole to keep the match going, canning a putt from 12 feet.
PATRICK REED (1-0-1) def. CHRISTIAAN BEZUIDENHOUT (0-1-1), 2 and 1
Reed got off to a fast start – three birdies in his first five holes – and never did let Bezuidenhout, the South African, back into the match once he won Nos. 8 and 9 and built a 3-up advantage through nine. Reed made four birdies in that opening nine, three of them coming from outside 13 feet. Bezuidenhout twice trimmed his deficit to 2-down, winning with a par when Reed messed up the 12th and making a nice birdie from a bunker at 16. Reed closed out the match with a par at 17.
Reed said: “I got off to a better start on ballstriking. I was able to put myself in the right positions early, and because of that, I was able to be aggressive with the putting. I feel like if I can putt aggressively, it just seems to free everything up.”
JOAQUIN NIEMANN (0-0-2) tied BUBBA WATSON (0-0-2)
Both players were hot and cold in a match that Watson never led but Niemann could never quite close out. Niemann birdied three of the first four holes to jump out to a 1-up lead. Watson, the 2018 champion here, continued to play well but also gave away holes with bogeys at Nos. 1 and 8, then hit into the water at the par-4 13th hole as Niemann built a 3-up lead. Then it was Niemann’s turn to make mistakes as his three straight bogeys from Nos. 14-16 opened the door for Watson to square the match. Watson bogeyed the 17th but birdied 18 for the tie.
SERGIO GARCIA (2-0-0) def. TYRRELL HATTON (0-1-1), 3 and 2
Garcia, who’s advanced to the Round of 16 twice in the four previous Match Plays at Austin Country Club, is in the driver’s seat to advance to knockout play once again. He never trailed in the match, winning the second hole with a 23-foot birdie putt. Garcia’s lead grew to 4-up after birdies at 11 and 13. Hatton won his only hole of the match at No. 15 but it was too little, too late. Garcia is now 11-5-1 in matches at Austin CC.
LEE WESTWOOD (1-1-0) def. MATT WALLACE (0-1-1), 5 and 3
Wallace held a 1-up lead after seven holes but Westwood squared the match with a par at No. 8. He took command by winning the first four holes of the back nine, three of them with birdies, to take a 4-up lead. Wallace had to take penalty drops on the 12th, 13th and 15th holes.
MACKENZIE HUGHES (2-0-0) def. WEBB SIMPSON (1-1-0), 4 and 3
Hughes moved to 2-0 with a huge win over a tough competitor in Simpson, the top-ranked player in the group. Simpson never led in the match, and trimmed his deficit to 2-down with a birdie at the par-5 12th. But Hughes made birdie at 14 and won the match when Simpson fluffed a chip from the right side of 15. Hughes advances to weekend play with a win or tie against Talor Gooch on Friday.
Hughes said: “I felt like on (Nos.) 8 and 9 today I got away with some loose shots and won a couple of holes there. And on the back nine, I hit my irons nicely and gave myself some good looks. On 13, I made a big putt from 10 feet (for birdie) with him in there about 3 feet. That was nice to hold off some of his momentum.”
PAUL CASEY (1-1-0) def. TALOR GOOCH (0-2-2), 3 and 2
This was a tight match through 10 holes. But Gooch got sloppy beginning at the 11th. He hit two balls in the water on the par 3, then hit a second shot into the water at the par-5 12th, losing both holes. Casey did his part, making a 17-foot birdie putt at 13 to move to 3-up. Three pars – one from a plugged bunker lie at the 16th – would seal the victory for him.
Casey said: “Yeah, I'm actually happy with the way I'm playing. Sometimes you get lucky, and maybe today I got a little bit lucky. Talor, first time I think I've ever played golf with him. … He's a lovely player, and he kind of gave me a couple of holes, which was very nice of him.”
PATRICK CANTLAY (2-0-0) def. CARLOS ORTIZ (1-1-0), 1-up
There wasn’t much give and take in this match of unbeatens in Group 10. Ortiz never led, and Cantlay never led more than 1-up. Both competitors played well, with Ortiz making five birdies in his loss. Cantley inched ahead with a 7-footer for birdie at 14, and the two traded birdies at the par-5 16th. Ortiz had one final attempt to tie the match, but his 15-footer for birdie from behind the hole at 18 curled off to the left. Cantlay has made 15 birdies in two days, and both of his matches (he beat Brian Harman, 1 up) went the distance. Cantlay said: “They’ve both (his matches) been extremely difficult. Sometimes match play is like that. Depending on the day, you have to bring it harder than other days. I’ve played really well. I’m happy with where my game is at, and I’m just going to keep plugging away.”
BRIAN HARMAN (1-1-0) def. HIDEKI MATSUYAMA (0-2-0), 1-up
Matsuyama made a nice late run at Harman, making birdies at 15 and 16 to at least help push the match to the 18th hole. There, Matsuyama hit his approach just inside 5 feet; Harman answered with a 50-yard flop shot over a front bunker that stopped inside Matsuyama’s ball. Matsuyama made his putt, forcing Harman to make his for the win. Harman needs help on Friday to have a chance to advance.
RORY MCILROY (1-1-0) def. LANTO GRIFFIN (0-2-0), 4 and 3
After fighting his game Wednesday, McIlroy, the 2015 winner and 2012 runner-up in this event, hit 11 bags of balls on the driving range. It paid off as he played better Thursday, winning the first three holes, two of them with pars. Griffin cut the lead to 1-up with birdies at the sixth and seventh holes, but McIlroy rebounded with birdies at the eighth and 10th to go back to 2-up. He went 3-up when Griffin missed left off the tee, took a penalty shot, and conceded the par-5 12th hole, and 4-up with a birdie at the short par-4 13th.
McIlroy said: “Lanto didn’t have his best stuff. I played solid and kept it in play, holed some good putts when it mattered.”
IAN POULTER (2-0-0) def. CAMERON SMITH (1-1-0), 1-up
Ian Poulter met his match in the feisty Smith, who put up a great battle and did well to push Poulter to the last hole. Smith, 3-down through 15 holes, birdied 16 and made a great putt from 16 feet to win the 17th. Smith was looking to make one more birdie to scratch out a tie; he hit his approach to 7 feet at 18. Poulter, who had laid back off the tee, then stood over his 15-footer and buried it, clinching the victory. Poulter is well-known for his Ryder Cup heroics, but he also won this tournament in 2010, defeating Paul Casey.
Poulter said: “I’d like to get this feeling I have (in match play) every single week, and it’s not there. Having to hole putts, what I tried on 17, and coming down the last … it’s a great feeling to get the nerves and the adrenaline going. Match play does it.”
DYLAN FRITTELLI (2-0-0) def. JASON KOKRAK (1-1-0), 3 and 2
Kokrak took a 1-up lead to the back nine but Frittelli won the Nos. 10-12 and closed out the match with a 21-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th. Frittelli, the Texas alum, can guarantee his spot in the Round of 16 with a win or tie tomorrow.
TONY FINAU (0-1-1) tied WILL ZALATORIS (0-1-1)
They tied the first six holes before Finau won No. 7 with a par. He led the rest of the way until his bogey on 18, where he drove right and then struck a tree with his approach shot. Unfortunately, neither player can advance to the Round of 16.
BERND WIESBERGER (1-1-0) def. VIKTOR HOVLAND (0-2-0), 4 and 2
Hovland, the highest-seeded player in Group 13, has been one of the tournament’s biggest surprises, getting soundly beaten for the second consecutive day. Atop of the match 1-up, Wiesberger went birdie-par-birdie beginning at No. 7 to stretch his lead to a 4-up advantage, and got to 5-up with another birdie at the par-4 10th. Wiesberger played nicely, making six birdies, and he was conceded two other holes.
Wiesberger said: “I holed a couple nice putts. I grabbed a couple of holes unexpectedly, like on 10, also 9 and 8. I just maybe got a little bit of benefit from mistakes from Viktor which I could take advantage of. I played the par-5s well today for most of the day and, yeah, I did just enough to get it over the line.”
ABRAHAM ANCER (2-0-0) def. KEVIN STREELMAN (1-1-0), 2 and 1
A methodical, grind-it-out sort of match between two day-one winners. One of the revelations of the 2019 Presidents Cup (3-1-1), Ancer got off to a slow start, giving away the first hole with a bogey, but birdied the sixth and seventh holes to take a 1-up lead. He mostly limited his mistakes and birdied the 12th and 13th holes to build a 3-up lead. Streelman, whose only other start in this event was a first-round loss in 2014, cut it to 2-up with a birdie at the 14th hole but it was too little, too late. Ancer is the only one in his group at 2-0-0.
Ancer said: “I enjoy this format. I think it’s a lot of fun. You have to make some putts when it matters.”
BRENDON TODD (1-1-0) def. DANIEL BERGER (1-1-0), 2 and 1
Todd took the lead after holing a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 10. They tied the next four holes before Todd won the 15th hole with a par to go 2-up. Berger won the next but Todd’s 11-footer for birdie on 17 ended things.
ERIK VAN ROOYEN (1-1-0) def. HARRIS ENGLISH (1-1-0), 2 and 1
Van Rooyen never trailed, holing a 5-footer for birdie to win the first hole and claiming No. 2 after English drove into the penalty area. Van Rooyen was 3-up at the turn and won Nos. 11-13 to grow his lead to 5-up. English fought back by winning Nos. 14-16 but it wasn’t enough. Only five of the 17 holes were halved, including just one on the back nine.
MATT FITZPATRICK (1-1-0) def. COREY CONNERS (0-2-0), 5 and 4
They halved two of the first three holes with birdies, but the match of first-round losers turned lopsided as Fitzpatrick continued to rack up birdies and Conners again succumbed to mistakes. Fitzpatrick, who in four tries has never made it out of group play – he lost a tiebreaker to Kevin Na in 2017 – went 4-up with his fifth birdie of the day at the 10th hole. Conners, who had already given away two holes with front-nine bogeys, hit into the water at the 11th and conceded the hole. The lead was 5-up and the match was all but over.
MATTHEW WOLFF (1-0-1) tied JORDAN SPIETH (1-0-1)
Spieth was in control of his match and his group as he headed to the tee at the short par-3 17th with a commanding 2-up lead over Wolff. But he hit his shot left of the green, and it spun between some rocks, with Spieth eventually conceding the hole. He then made bogey from 108 yards out at the 18th to hand a tie to Wolff. Both players moved to 1-0-1. Wolff never led, and did well to make off with the tie, as he made five bogeys in the match. Needing to make something happen at the 18th, he did hit flip wedge from 42 yards to 7 feet, and never even needed to putt.
Wolff said: “Nothing against Jordan, but I'm sure he's thinking he gave me that match, and he might have. But at the end of the day, I got it up-and-down on 15 for par to keep the match 2-down and then birdied 16, which, you know, only probably a handful of guys are going to eagle that hole. … 17 was kind of the turning point, when he gave me that hole.”
MARC LEISHMAN (1-1-0) def. SUNGJAE IM (1-1-0), 2 and 1
This match between Presidents Cup teammates was back and forth. Each time Leishman would win a hole, Im would seem to answer. Leishman birdied the first, Im won the second; Leishman birdied the sixth, and Im countered with a birdie at the 213-yard seventh. The match was tied through 14 holes. Leishman won the 15th hole with a par and was conceded the par-5 16th when Im had some pitching issues left of the green. A tee shot 27 feet below the hole at 17 gave Leishman two putts for the win.
RUSSELL HENLEY (1-1-0) def. VICTOR PEREZ (1-1-0), 4 and 3
A 20-footer by Henley at the par-3 11th put him 3-up and in control of the match, and he tacked on another hole at the par-5 12th, which he won with a par. When Perez finally made a birdie at 13, Henley matched him. Henley improved his all-time Match Play record to 4-6-0. Friday will be mighty interesting for Group 16. All four players head into their matches 1-1-0.