Pro Golf Weekly

WGC-Dell Day 2: DJ, Rahm Knocked Out; Reed, Spieth To Faceoff

Dustin Johnson getting bounced after just two rounds leads the headlines after day two in Austin. The World No. 1 lost to Adam Hadwin, and will join last year’s runner-up Jon Rahm as highest ranked players heading for the exits.

Dustin Johnson Dell Match Play

While DJ and Rahm failed to secure a win, 15 players are currently 2-0 this week, including eight who will face off against one another on Friday in something of an early knockout stage:

• Jordan Spieth (2-0) vs Patrick Reed (2-0)
• Justin Thomas (2-0) vs Francesco Molinari (2-0)
• Sergio Garcia (2-0) vs Xander Schauffele (2-0)
• Alex Noren (2-0) vs Tony Finau (2-0)

Other stories coming into play on Thursday included the surprise play of Ian Poulter; the under the radar performance of Garcia; and the continued stellar play of Thomas, who with a win in Austin would move World No. 1.


GROUP 1

STANDINGS
Seed Player Record (Points)
32 – Kevin Kisner – 1-0-1 (1.5)
38 – Adam Hadwin – 1-0-1 (1.5)
52 – Bernd Wiesberger – 1-1-0 (1)
1 – Dustin Johnson – 0-2-0 (0)

ROUND 1
Wiesberger defeated Johnson (3 and 1)
Kisner halved with Hadwin
ROUND 2
Hadwin defeated Johnson, 4 and 3
Kisner defeated Wiesberger, 5 and 4
ROUND 3
Johnson vs. Kisner, Hadwin vs. Wiesberger

For the second consecutive year, the defending champion did not advance beyond the group stage with 2017 champion Dustin Johnson falling 4 and 3 to Adam Hadwin in the second round.


GROUP 2

Justin Thomas

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

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

In a match between the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the current FedExCup standings, Justin Thomas won 3 and 1 versus Patton Kizzire. Thomas first took the lead in the match with an eagle on the par-5 sixth.

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

Thomas will face off Friday for the right to advance to the knockout stage against Francesco Molinari, who defeated Luke List 3 and 2 for his second consecutive victory.

“It’s going to be tough but I’m happy I finally have a chance to win and get through my group,” said Thomas.

“Tomorrow is all in my own hands. I control my own destiny and unfortunately haven’t been in that position in the past before. I’m excited for the opportunity.”


GROUP 3

28 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat 2-0-0 (2)
43 – Chez Reavie 1-1-0 (1)
3 – Jon Rahm 0-1-1 (.5)
63 – Keegan Bradley 0-1-1 (.5)

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

Last year’s runner-up Jon Rahm lost to Chez Reavie and was knocked out.

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, Keegan Bradley 1-up to take the Group 3 lead.

Aphibarnrat could advance to the knockout rounds with a win or a halve against Rahm on Friday.

“I’m really proud with the way I putt the last hole. Try to control myself, calm, and play shot by shot all day. First time I get down on 16 is first time in this event but nice the last two holes,” said Aphibarnrat.


GROUP 4

Patrick Reed

4 – Jordan Spieth 2-0-0 (2)
19 – Patrick Reed 2-0-0 (2)
34 – Hao Tong Li 0-2-0 (0)
49 – Charl Schwartzel 0-2-0 (0)

ROUND 1
Jordan Spieth defeated Charl Schwartzel, 2 and 1
Patrick Reed defeated Hao Tong Li, 3 and 2
ROUND 2
Spieth defeated Li, 4 and 2
Reed defeated Schwartzel, 1-up
ROUND 3
 Spieth vs. Reed; Li vs. Schwartzel

Fourth-seeded Jordan Spieth defeated China’s HaoTong Li, 4 and 2. Patrick Reed won three straight holes on 13, 14, and 15 en route to a 1 Up victory over Charl Schwartzel.

Spieth and Reed, who are both 2-0, will play on Friday at 1:32 PM for the right to advance out of Group 4.

“It’s going to be fun. Any time I get to play with Jordan, whether it’s as a teammate or against him, it’s always a good day at the golf course. Hopefully both of us go out and play really good golf and give all these fans something really fun to watch. Just have a good day,” said Reed.


GROUP 5

46 – Cameron Smith – 2-0-0 (2)
5 – Hideki Matsuyama – 1-0-0 (1)
30 – Patrick Cantlay – 1-1-0 (1)
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
Smith defeated Matsuyama, 1-up
Cantlay defeated Miyazato, 1-up
ROUND 3
Matsuyama vs. Cantlay, Smith vs. Miyazato

Cameron Smith is 2-0 after defeating fifth-seeded Hideki Matsuyama, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 16th to take the lead, which he held on to.

Matsuyama will need help from his fellow countryman Yusaku Miyazato, who needs to beat Cameron Smith to give the World No.5 a chance to advance to the knockout stage.

“It’s good. It was good to knock Pat off yesterday. It was a hard match. And then Hideki today. We kind of scrambled all day today in the wind. To be able to get it done was pretty cool,” said Smith.


GROUP 6

18 Brian Harman – 1-0-1 (1.5)
57 Peter Uihlein – 1-1-0 (1)
6 Rory McIlroy – 1-1-0 (1)
44 Jhonnattan Vegas – 0-1-1 (.5)

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

Brian Harman leads Group 6 after defeating Peter Uihlein, 3 and 2, on Friday.

A week after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, McIlroy won his match 2 and 1 against former Longhorn Jhonattan Vegas, but he’ll need to beat Harman Friday to have any shot at advancing to the knockout stage.

McIlroy, the 2015 champion, posted four birdies in his victory over Vegas and has now birdied 10 of the last 23 holes he’s played.

“Obviously I need to win tomorrow and that will at least get me into a playoff to try to get through, obviously depending on how Peter and Jhonny’s match goes,” said McIlroy.

“At least sort of brought things back into my own hands, which is nice. I didn’t want to have to rely on that. But that’s the beauty of this group play. Some years it works in your favor, like this year, and some years it doesn’t, like last.

“I played a match on Friday that was basically meaningless. It’s nice to still have something to play for tomorrow.”


GROUP 7

7 Sergio Garcia – 2-0-0 (2)
20 Xander Schauffele – 2-0-0 (2)
41 Dylan Frittelli – 0-2-0 (0)
62 Shubhankar Sharma – 0-2-0 (0)

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

Spain’s Sergio Garcia drove the 18th green to win the hole and the match 2-up over Dylan Frittelli.

Garcia will play 2017 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele for the chance to advance to the knockout round.

“It’s going to come down to that match with Xander. So excited about it. He’s obviously a very nice young player. And I expect that we’ll have a nice, hopefully a good match and see who comes on top,” said Garica.

Schauffele posted four birdies and zero bogeys on his way to a 3 and 1 victory over Shubhankar Sharma.

Sharma and former Texas Longhorn Dylan Frittelli, who were both making their first start in the event, will not advance beyond group play.


GROUP 8

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

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

All four members of Group 8 are tied with one point a piece after Jason Dufner defeated Jason Day, 3 and 1, and James Hahn defeated Louis Oosthuizen, 3 and 1.

“I needed a point today. Losing the first match, you have got less than a 20 percent chance of moving on. The last couple of years in this pool format, you definitely need to win that next day,” said Dufner.

“Half a point, you might have a chance. So it was good to get a point today. Move on to tomorrow and see if we can get another.”

Day’s match Friday against Louis Oosthuizen will be a rematch of the 2016 Championship Match at Austin Country Club, which Day won 5 and 4.

Hahn, who is making his first career start at the Dell Technologies Match Play, birdied three of his first six holes en route to a 3 and 1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen.


GROUP 9

58 – Ian Poulter (58) – 2-0-0 (2)
33 – Kevin Chappell – 1-1-0 (1)
9 – Tommy Fleetwood (9) 1-1-0 (0)
26 – Daniel Berger (26) 0-2-0 (0)

ROUND 1
 Ian Poulter defeated Tommy Fleetwood, 3 and 2
Kevin Chappell defeated Daniel Berger, 3 and 2
ROUND 2
 Fleetwood defeated Chappell, 7 and 6
Poulter defeated Berger, 2 and 1
ROUND 3
 Fleetwood vs. Berger; Chappell vs. Poulter

England’s Tommy Fleetwood posted the largest margin of victory of the tournament thus far and tied the seventh largest in tournament history with a 7 and 6 victory over Kevin Chappell.

Poulter, the 2010 Dell Technologies Match Play champion, is the only player at 2-0 in his group and can advance with a win or halve in his Friday match with Kevin Chappell.

“Yeah, I like match play, let’s just put it like that. I don’t know how else to explain it. I absolutely hate losing with a passion. In fact it makes me want to vomit. That’s it. Plain and simple in a nutshell,” said Poulter.


GROUP 10

10 – Paul Casey – 2-0-0 (2)
45 – Kyle Stanley – 1-1-0 (1)
51 – Russell Henley – 1-1-0 (1)
31 – Matthew Fitzpatrick – 0-2-0 (0)

ROUND 1
 Paul Casey defeated Russell Henley, 1 up
Kyle Stanley defeated Matthew Fitzpatrick, 1 up
ROUND 2
 Casey defeated Stanley, 4 and 2
Henley defeated Fitzpatrick, 2 and 1
ROUND 3
Casey vs. Fitzpatrick; Stanley vs. Henley

Paul Casey tied David Toms and Ian Poulter, who has also won his first two matches, for most career matches won at the Dell Technologies Match Play with a victory over Kyle Stanley.

“Really solid stuff today. I didn’t make too many mistakes. I made some putts, really nice putts. I still find the golf course difficult,” said Casey.

“You saw me staring at that shot on 15. I had no clue how to play it. Kyle Stanley showed you how you obviously needed to play it.

“But the margin for error is so small. Today I just eliminated the mistakes, made some putts and made it very, very difficult for Kyle today.”

Casey is now 2-0 and would ensure he advances to the knockout round with a halve or victory against Matthew Fitzpatrick Friday.

Henley bogeyed two of his first four holes but came back with five birdies against no bogeys his last 13 holes for a 2 and 1 victory over Fitzpatrick.


GROUP 11

35 Bubba Watson – 2-0-0 (1)
64 Julian Suri – 1-1-0 (1)
23 Branden Grace – 1-1-0 (1)
11 Marc Leishman – 0-2-0 (0)

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

Bubba Watson controls his own destiny in Group 11 after a victory over Marc Leishman. Watson was all square with
Leishman with seven holes to play but won the par-5 12th with a par and the 13th with a bogey. He added a birdie at the 16th to win the hole and take his second victory in a row.

“Yes, it’s very fun. Anytime you’re winning you feel good. Today is one of those days with the gusty winds, on the back nine, here, especially it gets gusty down by this river,” said Watson.

“It’s going left-to-right and right-to-left. It’s always a guessing game. That’s why these holes are so difficult.”

Branden Grace trailed by one hole after six, but won the next three holes to take a 2-up lead he never relinquished, winning 2 and 1 over Julian Suri.

Suri, who started the week as the first alternate, will need a win over Watson to have any shot at advancing. Marc Leishman, the top seed in the group, will not advance beyond group play.


GROUP 12

12 – Tyrrell Hatton – 2-0-0 (2)
36 – Brendan Steele -– 1-1-0 (1)
22 – Charley Hoffman – 0-2-0 (0)
55 – Alexander Levy – 1-1-0 (1)

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

England’s Hatton is 2-0 in his opening matches for the second year in a row after defeating Brendan Steele, 3 and 2, in the second round Thursday. With either a win or a halve Friday against Hoffman, Hatton will guarantee he advances to the knockout stage.

“It wasn’t looking good through 7 holes. I was 3-down. I had a lot of work to do. But I’m very happy with how I played the last nine, ten holes especially with the conditions,” said Hatton.

“It’s pretty tough out here. Very gusty. To finish with an eagle there is great.”

After dropping his first four career matches at the Dell Technologies Match Play, Alexander Levy won his first match in the event with a 1-up victory over Charley Hoffman. Hoffman will not advance beyond group play


GROUP 13

13 – Alex Noren – 2-0-0 (2)
29 – Tony Finau – 2-0-0 (2)
61 – Kevin Na – 0-2-0 (0)
39 – Thomas Pieters – 0-2-0 (0)

ROUND 1
Alex Noren defeated Kevin Na, 4 and 2
Tony Finau defeated Thomas Pieters, 2 and 1
ROUND 2
Noren defeated Pieters, 5 and 4
Finau defeated Na, 3 and 2
ROUND 3
Noren vs. Finau; Pieters vs. Na

Sweden’s Alex Noren moved to 2-0 with a victory over Thomas Pieters. Noren will face Tony Finau Friday, who is also 2-0, for the right to advance to the knockout stage.

“I kind of like it’s very direct, it’s only one guy going through. You have got to win it all. And it makes it very clear in your mind and you go out and try to win it. Today I needed to get a win today,” said Noren.

“Tony is such a good player. I played a lot with him this year. He hits so long and very consistent as well. I need to play as well as I did today probably.?

Finau defeated Kevin Na, 3 and 2, and is now 2-0 in his first appearance at the WGC-Dell Match Play.

Thomas Pieters will not advance beyond group play.


GROUP 14

59 – Charles Howell III – 2-0-0 (2)
17 – Rafa Cabrera Bello – 1-1-0 (1)
14 – Phil Mickelson – 1-1-0 (1)
40 – Satoshi Kodaira – 0-2-0 (0)

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

No. 59 seed Charles Howell III could advance out of group play for the second consecutive year after winning each of his first two matches.

In the second-round match, Howell III made just two birdies but only one bogey and was able to squeeze out a 3 and 1 victory with Cabrera Bello making five bogeys on the day. It was the second consecutive year Howell defeated Cabrera Bello in the second round.

“Yeah, Raf and I played each other last year in this. And I knew it was going to be tough. Obviously he’s one of the European stars,” said Howell.

“Yeah, I mean none of these things are easy. And even right down to the end, you still try to finish it out and get a full point, not just a half. None of these things are easy for me.”

Satoshi Kodaira made four birdies in his first seven holes against Phil Mickelson to take a 4-up lead, but Mickelson birdied five holes on the back nine and won the last three holes to take a 1-up win.

Howell moves on with a win or halve against Kodaira.


GROUP 15

Seed Player Record (Points)
50 – Si Woo Kim – 1-0-1 (1.5)
37 – Webb Simpson – 1-0-1 (1.5)
15 – Pat Perez – 0-1-1 (.5)
24 – Gary Woodland – 0-1-1 (.5)

ROUND 1
Perez and Kim halved; Woodland and Simpson halved.
ROUND 2
Simpson defeated Perez, 2 and 1
Kim defeated Woodland, 5 and 3
ROUND 3
Perez vs. Woodland; Simpson vs. Kim

After losing two of the final three holes for a halve against Pat Perez in the first round, 2017 PLAYERS Championship winner Si Woo Kim returned with a bogey-free day that included five birdies en route to a victory over Gary Woodland. The winner of the Kim-Webb Simpson match Friday will advance out of Group 15.

“Yeah, coming off a comeback halve yesterday and a victory today, I feel like I have got good momentum,” said Simpson.

“But he won today, so we’ll see. I’m looking forward to it. I love competing, it’s fun. Try to go out and get another win.”

Woodland, the runner-up at the 2015 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, and Pat Perez will not advance beyond group play.


GROUP 16

Seed Player Record (Points)
16 – Matt Kuchar – 1-0-1 (1.5)
47 – Yuta Ikeda – 1-1-0 (1)
27 – Ross Fisher – 1-1-0 (1)
54 – Zach Johnson – 0-1-1 (.5)

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

Kuchar, the 2013 champion of the event, posted only one bogey en route to a 1-up victory over Yuta Ikeda. Kuchar, a seven-time PGA Tour winner, is in search of his first PGA Tour victory since 2014.

Zach Johnson, who has advanced beyond group stage in each of the two past events at Austin Country Club, will not advance out of the group stage this year after losing to Ross Fisher.

“I knew it was going to be tough. Zach is a great player. He’s a very gritty competitor, having seen it firsthand at Ryder Cups,” said Fisher.

“So it was going to be a tough game. We both played pretty solid. It was a nip and tuck. He got 2-up early and I got pack to 2-up. He fought back and managed to close it out.”

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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