As if Friday’s Group Stage finale wasn’t damaging enough to the NBC golf broadcast, and tournament sponsor Dell – when 15 of the 16 top seeds were officially ousted from weekend play.
The group of 16 which teed off this morning included just a single top seed, No. 3 Jon Rahm, and just one in the top 25, Tommy Fleetwood (21).
The rest were a mix of relatively unknown up-and-comers like Victor Perez, journeyman such as Kevin Streelman, and a few D pool names, who’ve struggled recently, but still carried box-office appeal, including two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson, Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter, and three-time major winner Jordan Spieth.
But as happened on Friday, one by one, the marquee names were ousted by their less famous (and less appealing) opponents: Poutler (60) lost first, going down to No. 30 Scottie Scheffler – a nice player with Texas roots, and zero PGA Tour wins. Then Bubba was taken out by his fellow – and much less famous – Georgia Bulldog, Brian Harman (52) who owns two career Tour wins, none since 2017.
The final dagger, though, was the most painful, as Jordan Spieth – clearly the top storyline remaining – lost to Matt Kuchar on the final hole.
Round of 16 Results
Tommy Fleetwood (21)
def. Dylan Frittelli (64), 4 & 3
Billy Horschel (32)
def. Kevin Streelman (53), 3 & 1
def. Mackenzie Hughes (48), 2 & 1
Victor Perez (31)
def. Robert MacIntyre (41), 5 & 4
Scottie Scheffler (30)
def. Ian Poulter (60), 5 & 4
Jon Rahm (3)
def. Erik van Rooyen (62), 3 & 2
Brian Harman (54)
def. Bubba Watson (55), 2 &1
Matt Kuchar (52)
def. Jordan Spieth (49), 1-up
With the possible exception of Sergio Garcia, we’re left with a batch of players who simply do not move the needle in terms of star power.
The final eight are: Billy Horschel (0 wins in last 4 years), Brian Harman (0 PGA Tour wins in last 4 years), Scottie Scheffler (0 PGA Tour wins), Tommy Fleetwood (0 PGA Tour wins), Victor Perez (0 PGA Tour wins), Matt Kuchar (0 Top 25s in 2021), Jon Rahm (world No. 3), and Sergio Garcia (2017 Masters winner).
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Course: Austin Country Club
Locale: Austin, Texas
Date: Saturday, March 27, 2021
TV: 2–6 pm (NBC)
WGC-Dell Match Play Quarter Final Matches
Tommy Fleetwood (21) v Bill Horschel (32)
Victor Perez (31) v Sergio Garcia (39)
Jon Rahm (3) v Scottie Scheffler (30)
Matt Kuchar (52) v Brian Harman (54)