Pro Golf Weekly

Dell Match Play: DJ, Rory Upset; JT, Day, Spieth Win

It might be Wednesday, but the PGA Tour is not taking this one off. The first round of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play kicked off today in Austin, with 64 golfers playing the first of three pool play matches.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

The Austin tournament has been prone to upsets in the past, and today was no different, as six of the top seeds were beaten – none bigger than defending champion and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who lost to World No. 56 Bernd Wiesberger, 3 and 1.


GROUP 1

ROUND 1
Seed Player Record (Points)
52 – Bernd Wiesberger – 1-0-0 (1)
32 – Kevin Kisner – 0-0-1 (.5)
38 – Adam Hadwin – 0-0-1 (.5)
1 – Dustin Johnson – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– 
Wiesberger defeated Johnson (3 and 1)
– Kisner halved with Hadwin
ROUND 2
– Johnson vs. Hadwin, Kisner vs. Wiesberger
ROUND 3
– Johnson vs. Kisner, Hadwin vs. Wiesberger

Last year, three players were able to rebound from a first-round loss and advance beyond the group stage. World No. 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson is hoping to accomplish that task this year after an opening-round loss to Bernd Wiesberger.

In Wednesday’s opening match Johnson recorded just two birdies with a quadruple bogey, two double bogeys and two bogeys.

The match’s turning point occurred when Wiesberger reeled off three-straight birdies on Nos. 15, 16 and 17 to close out the match.

“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,” said Wiesberger.

“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.

“Didn’t hit it as great. The golf course was tough and the wind was gusting. Just happy to get through.”


GROUP 2

2 – Justin Thomas 1-0-0 (1)
21 – Francesco Molinari 1-0-0 (1)
48 – Patton Kizzire 0-1-0 (0)
60 – Luke List 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Justin Thomas defeated Luke List, 2 up
– Francesco Molinari defeated Patton Kizzire, 3 and 1
ROUND 2
– Thomas vs. Kizzire, Molinari vs. List
ROUND 3
– Thomas vs. Molinari, Kizzire vs. List

No. 2 seed Justin Thomas pulled ahead of Luke List 2 up on the sixth hole when List bent his putter after mistakenly hitting it on a rock out of frustration. With the putter considered a non-conforming golf club, List played the final 12 holes putting with his wedge yet managed to extend the match the 18th hole, aided by three birdies on Nos. 13, 15, and 16.

Thomas won the 18th hole with a birdie to solidify his 2-up win. 

“I drove the ball well. I felt I was in control a lot of the match in terms of having a lot of putts to win holes or he had a lot of putts or up-and-downs to halve the hole. I was hitting a lot of greens,” said Thomas.

With a victory this week, Thomas could potentially move to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Francesco Molinari edged Kizzire, 3 and 1. Molinari has struggled in the event in the past entering the week with a 2-10-0 record.


GROUP 3

28 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat 1-0-0 (1)
3 – Jon Rahm 0-0-1 (.5)
63 – Keegan Bradley 0-0-1 (.5)
43 – Chez Reavie 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Rahm and Bradley halved
– Aphibarnrat defeated Reavie, 3 and 2
ROUND 2
– Rahm vs. Reavie; Aphibarnrat vs. Bradley
ROUND 3
– Rahm vs. Aphibarnrat; Reavie vs. Bradley

Last year’s runner-up Jon Rahm halved his match on the final hole with Keegan Bradley despite Bradley’s three birdies and an eagle in a four-hole stretch (Nos. 9-12). Bradley exited the 15th hole leading by 2 with three remaining but bogeys on 16 and 18 opened the door for Rahm to salvage a half point.

“I am a little relieved. I wish it would have been a little prettier. I felt like I played much better than it showed. The first five holes I played nearly flawless golf. Hit every shot to perfection, basically. And I was 3-up until then,” said Rahm.

“After that, I kept making good swings but things just weren’t happening. As you know, I gave Keegan some room to come back. Hopefully I can keep playing good golf next time and eliminate those mistakes that helped Keegan in the match.

“Either way, he played really good golf. He made really good putts. Birdied 11, eagle on 12. It could have gone either way. We both played good. I got lucky at the end.”

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, winner of two European Tour match play events – the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play (2015) and this season’s ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth, defeated Chez Reavie 3 and 2 to take the full point.


GROUP 4

4 – Jordan Spieth 1-0-0 (1)
19 – Patrick Reed 1-0-0 (1)
34 – Hao Tong Li 0-1-0 (0)
49 – Charl Schwartzel 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Jordan Spieth defeated Charl Schwartzel, 2 and 1
– Patrick Reed defeated Hao Tong Li, 3 and 2
ROUND 2
– Spieth vs. Li; Reed vs.Schwartzel
ROUND 3
– Spieth vs. Reed; Li vs. Schwartzel

Fourth-seeded Jordan Spieth defeated South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, 2 and 1, highlighted by a hat trick of birdies on 12, 13 and 14 that broke an all-square match and gave the reigning Open Champion a 3 up lead.

“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,” said Spieth.

Patrick Reed, who became the youngest player to win a World Golf Championships event when he won what is now the Mexico Championship in 2014, defeated Hao Tong Li, 3 and 2.


GROUP 5

5 – Hideki Matsuyama – 1-0-0 (1)
46 – Cameron Smith – 1-0-0 (1)
30 – Patrick Cantlay – 0-1-0 (0)
53 – Yusaku Miyazato – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Hideki Matsuyama defeated Yusaku Miyato, 2 and 1
– Cameron Smith defeated Patrick Cantlay, 2 up
ROUND 2
– Matsuyama vs. Smith, Cantlay vs. Miyazato
ROUND 3
– Matsuyama vs. Cantlay, Smith vs. Miyazato

Playing against his fellow countryman Yusaku Miyazato, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama recorded a 2-and-1 victory. Matsuyama has only advanced from the group stage once in his three previous attempts where he lost to eventual champion Rory McIlroy in 2015.

“After a long way off, 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,” said Matsuyama.

“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.”

Australian Cameron Smith held a late comeback by Patrick Cantlay to win 2 up in a battle of Dell Technologies Match Play rookies.


GROUP 6

57 Peter Uihlein – 1-0-0 (1)
18 Brian Harman – 0-0-1 (.5)
44 Jhonnattan Vegas – 0-0-1 (.5)
6 Rory McIlroy – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Peter Uihlein defeated Rory McIlroy, 2 and 1
– Brian Harman and Jhonattan Vegas halved
ROUND 2
– McIlroy vs. Vegas; Harman vs. Uihlein
ROUND 3
– McIlroy vs. Harman; Vegas vs. Uihlein

Peter Uihlein, the 57th seed, defeated Rory McIlroy 2 and 1 in a match that included 10 birdies and just one bogey between the two players. Uihlein led 5 up at the 11th hole but McIlroy stormed back with five consecutive birdies, but it was too late as pars on the 17th hole closed it out for Uihlein.

“I made him earn it at least. I made the score line a little more respectable,” said McIlroy.

“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 — it was hard to sort of claw my way back.

“It was gusty out there, the conditions were a little tricky. As I said, I made a run at him at the end, but it was a little too late.”

A week after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, McIlroy is one of five top seeds to lose their opening-round match. McIlroy lost to Soren Kjeldsen in last year’s opening round as well.


GROUP 7

7 Sergio Garcia – 1-0-0 (1)
20 Xander Schauffele – 1-0-0 (1)
41 Dylan Frittelli – 0-1-0 (0)
62 Shubhankar Sharma – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Sergio Garcia defeated Shubhankar Sharma, 1 up
– Xander Schauffele defeated Dylan Frittelli, 1 up
ROUND 2
– Garcia vs. Frittelli, Schauffele vs. Sharma
ROUND 3
– Garcia vs. Schauffele, Frittelli vs. Sharma

Spain’s Sergio Garcia, playing for the first time since the birth of his daughter last week, birdied the final hole to defeat India’s 21-year-old Shubhankar Sharma.

Garcia birdied five of the final eight holes in the win. Garcia, who spends a lot of time in Austin as his wife, Angela is from the area, has yet to advance from the group stage since the event moved to the group format in 2015.


GROUP 8

8 – Jason Day – 1-0-0 (1)
25 – Louis Oosthuizen – 1-0-0 (1)
42 – Jason Dufner – 0-1-0 (0)
56 – James Hahn – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Jason Day defeated James Hahn, 4 and 2
– Louis Oosthuizen defeated Jason Dufner, 1 up
ROUND 2
– Day vs. Dufner; Oosthuizen vs. Hahn
ROUND 3
– Day vs. Oosthuizen; Dufner vs. Hahn

Jason Day easily beat James Hahn in round one. The Aussie was just 1 up at the turn, but then smoked the American on the back.

Day one the 2016 Dell Technologies Match Play by beating Louis Oosthuizen, 5 and 4, in the finals. Day will play Oosthuizen in Friday’s third round of group stage.

Oosthuizen was also victorious in his first-round match against Jason Dufner.


GROUP 9

33 – Kevin Chappell – 1-0-0 (1)
58 – Ian Poulter (58) – 1-0-0 (1)
9 – Tommy Fleetwood (9) 0-1-0 (0)
26 – Daniel Berger (26) 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– 
Ian Poulter defeated Tommy Fleetwood, 3 and 2
– Kevin Chappell defeated Daniel Berger, 3 and 2
ROUND 2
– 
Fleetwood vs. Chappell; Berger vs. Poulter
ROUND 3
– 
Fleetwood vs. Berger; Chappell vs. Poulter

In a match between two English players, veteran Ian Poulter upset  Tommy Fleetwood 3 and 2. Poulter, the 2010 Dell Technologies Match Play champion, improved his career record in the event to 24-14, to tie David Toms and Paul Casey with the second-most matches won in tournament history. Poulter, a Ryder Cup legend, is making his 13th appearance at the event but his first since 2015 after missing the last two events.

“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,” said Poulter.

“The simplicity of match play is win your match. It sounds really easy and it’s not. So level of focus, level of concentration this week. Be super aggressive, try not to hand too many holes away.”


GROUP 10

10 – Paul Casey – 1-0-0 (1)
45 – Kyle Stanley – 1-0-0 (1)
31 – Matthew Fitzpatrick – 0-1-0 (0)
51 – Russell Henley – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– 
Paul Casey defeated Russell Henley, 1 up
– Kyle Stanley defeated Matthew Fitzpatrick, 1 up
ROUND 2
– 
Casey vs. Stanley; Fitzpatrick vs. Henley
ROUND 3
– Casey vs. Fitzpatrick; Stanley vs. Henley

Paul Casey won on the final hole despite never holding a lead at any other time of the match against Russell Henley. The win is the 24th match victory for the two-time runner-up at the Dell Technologies Match Play. The 24 matches won ties for second-most in tournament history with David Toms and Ian Poulter, who also won his first-round match. Tiger Woods has the most matches won with 33.


GROUP 11

35 Bubba Watson – 1-0-0 (1)
64 Julian Suri – 1-0-0 (1)
11 Marc Leishman – 0-1-0 (0)
23 Branden Grace – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– 
Julian Suri defeated Marc Leishman, 3 and 2
– Bubba Watson defeated Branden Grace, 5 and 3
ROUND 2
– 
Leishman vs. Watson; Grace vs. Suri
ROUND 3
– 
Leishman vs. Grace; Watson vs. Suri

Both lower seeds were victorious in their first-round matches with Julian Suri (64) and Bubba Watson (35) winning their opening matches against Marc Leishman and Branden Grace, respectively.

Suri, an American who is a full-time member of the European Tour, jumped out to a 2-up lead with pars on the first two holes. Birdies on holes 12 and 13 put him 3 up with five holes remaining. A birdie on the 16th sealed the 3-and-2 victory. Suri has played in three PGA TOUR events this year, making the cut in two, but has yet to have a breakthrough performance.

In the last year, Suri has made a significant move in the Official World Golf Rankings thanks to a victory on the European Challenge Tour followed by his first career win on the European Tour. Suri, who started the week as the first alternate, officially joined the field when Joost Luiten withdrew on Monday.

“Well, you know, I think a lot of people were — 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,” said Suri.

“I wanted to get off to a good start and I played really solid today.”

Watson beat South African Branden Grace 5 and 3 for the largest margin of victory on the day. Watson came out of the gates on fire with birdies on the first four holes and birdies on seven of the first nine holes.

“Yeah, it was nice. Making the putts early. My practice round stopped at No. 7. It was nice to get out and play these other holes,” said Watson.

“It was getting to see them obviously gave me the advantage having the big lead. I got to check out the holes more on some of them.”

Watson’s best finish in this event came in his first appearance in 2011 when he reached the consolation match and finished fourth.

Watson returned to the winner’s circle with his 10th career victory earlier this year at the Genesis Open. The win, in addition to three other top-25 finishes has him back in the top 30, currently at No. 21 in the FedExCup standings.


GROUP 12

12 – Tyrrell Hatton – 1-0-0 (1)
36 – Brendan Steele -– 1-0-0 (1)
22 – Charley Hoffman – 0-1-0 (0)
55 – Alexander Levy – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Tyrrell Hatton defeated Alexander Levy, 3 and 2
– Brendan Steele defeated Charley Hoffman, 1 up
ROUND 2
– Hatton vs. Steele; Hoffman vs. Levy
ROUND 3
– Hatton vs. Hoffman; Steele vs. Levy

England’s Tyrell Hatton is coming off his best finish in a World Golf Championships event having missed a playoff with Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas by one stroke to finish third at the Mexico Championship earlier this month.

Hatton defeated Alexander Levy, 3 and 2. Hatton won the first two matches in group play in his Dell Technologies Match Play debut last year, but fell 2 and 1 in the deciding Friday match against Rafa Cabrera Bello, 2 and 1.


GROUP 13

13 – Alex Noren – 1-0-0 (1)
29 – Tony Finau – 1-0-0 (1)
61 – Kevin Na – 0-1-0 (0)
39 – Thomas Pieters – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Alex Noren defeated Kevin Na, 4 and 2
– Tony Finau defeated Thomas Pieters, 2 and 1
ROUND 2
– Noren vs. Pieters; Finau vs. Na
ROUND 3
– Noren vs. Finau; Pieters vs. Na

Sweden’s Alex Noren dispatched of Kevin Na, 4 and 2, as Noren looks to become the second player from Sweden to wi n aWorld Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, joining 2007 champion Henrik Stenson.

Noren lost to eventual champion Dustin Johnson in last year’s quarterfinal, 5 and 3, to finish T5. Noren playing for the first time as a full-time member of the PGA TOUR this season. Last year’s T5 finish played a large role on Noren earning his PGA TOUR card from the non-member FedExCup points list.

American Tony Finau defeated Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, 2 and 1, in his first appearance at the Dell Technologies Match Play.

Finau is in the field as the 29th seed and has two runner-up finishes so far this season including the season-opening Safeway Open and later at the Genesis Open.


GROUP 14

59 – Charles Howell III – 1-0-0 (1)
17 – Rafa Cabrera Bello – 1-0-0 (1)
14 – Phil Mickelson – 0-1-0 (0)
40 – Satoshi Kodaira – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Charles Howell III defeated Phil Mickelson, 3 and 2
– Rafa Cabrera Bello defeated Satoshi Kodaira, 2 and 1
ROUND 2
– Mickelson vs. Kodaira; Cabrera Bello vs. Howell
ROUND 3
– Mickelson vs. Cabrera Bello; Kodaira vs. Howell

No. 59 seed Charles Howell III defeated Phil Mickelson, 3 and 2, as Mickelson made his return to competition following his first PGA TOUR victory in five years at the last WGC at the Mexico Championship. Howell advanced from his group last year by winning a three-man playoff against Tyrrell Hatton and Rafa Cabrera Bello on the fifth playoff hole. Howell went on to lose to Jon Rahm in the quarterfinals.

Last year, Howell defeated Cabrera Bello, 1 up, in the second round of group play. This is Mickelson’s first time losing in the first round of the event in his last 12 events dating back to 2002.


GROUP 15

Seed Player Record (Points)
15 – Pat Perez – 0-0-1 (.5)
24 – Gary Woodland – 0-0-1 (.5)
37 – Webb Simpson – 0-0-1 (.5)
50 – Si Woo Kim – 0-0-1 (.5)

ROUND 1
– Perez and Kim halved; Woodland and Simpson halved.
ROUND 2
– Perez vs. Simpson; Woodland vs. Kim
ROUND 3
– Perez vs. Woodland; Simpson vs. Kim

In the first match of the day, Pat Perez found himself 3 down thru five holes to 2017 PLAYERS Championship winner Si Woo Kim. Perez, who won at the CIMB Classic earlier this season, never led in the match and was 2 down heading to the 16th tee.

Perez won the 16th and 17th holes and with pars on the 18th, the matched ended halved. Gary Woodland and Webb Simpson halved their match after Woodland led 3 up at the turn. Simpson squared the match on the 14th hole with Woodland going 1 up on a birdie at the 15th. Simpson birdied the 17th and made a crucial up-and-down to par the 18th for the halve.

Woodland finished runner-up at the 2015 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play losing 4 and 2 to Rory McIlroy at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco where he beat Simpson in the third match of group play, 1 up.


GROUP 16

Seed Player Record (Points)
47 – Yuta Ikeda – 1-0-0 (1)
16 – Matt Kuchar – 0-0-1 (.5)
54 – Zach Johnson – 0-0-1 (.5)
27 – Ross Fisher – 0-1-0 (0)

ROUND 1
– Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson halved; Yuta Ikeda defeated Ross Fisher, 2 and 1
ROUND 2
– Kuchar vs. Ikeda; Fisher vs. Johnson
ROUND 3
– Kuchar vs. Fisher; Ikeda vs. Johnson

Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson combined for 15 birdies with Johnson recording birdies on five of the last six holes including each of the final four. Johnson was down 4 with four holes remaining. His birdie on the last came after he drove the green.

Johnson has advanced beyond group stage in each of the two past events at Austin Country Club, losing to Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson in the fourth rounds, respectively.

Jeff Smith

Jeff is a writer and content producer for Pro Golf Weekly. He is working on a book, documenting the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the major golf tours.

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