WGC-Match Play Round 3: Big Names Get Knocked Out

Pool play has been completed at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, and the 16-player bracket is something that very few predicted. World #1 Dustin Johnson (1) moved on, to nobody’s surprise, but the only other player seeded in the top 10 to make the round of 16 was little-known Alex Noren (8) of Sweden. \

 
Surprising big names who will miss the weekend include Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia, and Patrick Reed.

Five groups had to go to a playoff on Friday to be decided, and the winners of the 16 groups are set to tee off on Saturday in a single-elimination show-down.

Moving Onto the Round of 16

(1) Dustin Johnson 3-0-0
(8) Alex Noren 3-0-0
(12) Paul Casey 3-0-0
(13) Bubba Watson 2-0-1
(14) Phil Mickelson 3-0-0
(20) Brooks Koepka 3-0-0
(21) Jon Rahm 3-0-0
(28) Marc Leishman 2-1-0
(42) Bill Haas 2-1-0
(46) Kevin Na 2-1-0
(47) Ross Fisher 2-1-0
(48) William McGirt 3-0-0
(54) Hideto Tanihara 2-0-1
(61) Charles Howell III 2-1-0
(62) Soren Kjeldsen 3-0-0

Day 3 Studs: Making it Look Easy

Phil Mickelson (again)

For the third straight day, Phil Mickelson absolutely dominated his opponent, whipping J.B. Holmes 6&5. With the runaway win over Holmes, and the wins of 5&3 and 5&4 on Wednesday and Thursday, it defies belief that Mickelson is going to the round of 16 for the just first time in 13 years.

 
As he did in his first two matches, Mickelson got off to a hot start, winning the first three holes. He will face Arnold Palmer Invitational Champion Marc Leishman on Saturday.

Jon Rahm (21)

The most anticipated match of the day, Spaniard legend Sergio Garcia versus Probably Future Spaniard legend Jon Rahm in a winner-take-all affair, was not the nailbiter it was expected to be. Rahm went on an early back nine tear and left Sergio in the dust, taking the match 6&4, and clinching a spot in the round of 16 in his first try.

 
Sergio played well enough early on to keep it close; he had just a one hole deficit after 8 holes, but once Rahm was feeling it, Sergio was finished. Rahm birdied 9, 10, 12, and 13, and needed nothing more. Rahm will face Charles Howell III next, in the round of 16.

Day 3 Duds: Leaving With Regrets

Jimmy Walker (18)

Yes, Dustin Johnson is very, very good. Nobody would be favored to beat him right now. That being said, a player of Walker’s caliber, the most recent man in golf to win a major championship, has no excuse for going six down through seven holes against anyone.

 
Walker won back a few of those holes on the back nine, but by then, DJ was in prevent defense mode, ultimately winning 5&3. Walker went 1-2-0 for the week, while DJ won all three of his matches definitively.

Hideki Matsuyama (4)

Matsuyama may have multiple wins on the season, and elevated himself to world #4, but he looked nowhere near the part on Friday, getting crushed 6&4 by Louis Oosthuizen (23). Matsuyama won the first hole, but Oosthuizen dominated after that, taking #2, #3, and #4 and never letting up.

 
Hideki ended up a disappointing 0-2-1 in pool play, a surprise for a player who has been great in stroke play playoffs.

Advancing Via Playoff

Charles Howell III (61)

One of the lowest seeded players in the field, Howell III had a big task in front of him, trying to find a way through a brutal group that included Tyrell Hatton (10) and Rafa Cabrera-Bello (22), who have both been phenomenal in the U.S. and Europe over the past year.

 
Howell III did what he had to on Friday, winning 2&1 against Jeunghun Wang, and then staring down Cabrera-Bello in a five-hole playoff to take the group with a 2-1-0 record. Hatton was also involved in that playoff, but was eliminated after a careless mistake led to a two-shot penalty on the first hole.  

Things will not be much easier for Howell III tomorrow; he is the unlucky player who drew Jon Rahm in the round of 16.

Ross Fisher (47)

Fisher looked like one of the best in the world at his peak in 2009, but later went into a big multi-year slump that dropped him to #100 in the world rankings. Since then, he has slowly worked his way back up, mostly in Europe, and as of the past two years has at least made it back to the point where he was qualifying for majors and WGC events.

 
Fisher took another big step forward on Friday, first knocking off Jim Furyk (51) 4&2 in a match where he held the lead after every hole. Then faced with the unenviable task of competing against 2016 Match Play runner-up Louis Oosthuizen (23) in a playoff. Fisher won with a birdie on just the second playoff hole, taking the match and the group. He will face an upstart Bubba Watson on Saturday in the round of 16.

Leaderboard

MatchResultsWinner
Danny Willett vs. Russell Knox4 and 2Danny Willett
Bill Haas vs. K.T. Kim4 and 2Bill Haas
Justin Thomas vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick2 and 1Matthew Fitzpatrick
Kevin Na vs. Chris Wood2 and 1Chris Wood
Phil Mickelson vs. J.B. Holmes6 and 5Phil Mickelson
Daniel Berger vs. Si Woo Kim1 upSi Woo Kim
Lee Westwood vs. Pat Perez2 and 1Lee Westwood
Tyrrell Hatton vs. Rafa Cabrera Bello2 and 1Rafa Cabrera Bello
Jeung-hun Wang vs. Charles Howell III2 and 1Charles Howell III
Sergio Garcia vs. Jon Rahm6 and 4Jon Rahm
Kevin Chappell vs. Shane Lowry1 upKevin Chappell
Branden Grace vs. Brandt Snedeker5 and 4Brandt Snedeker
William McGirt vs. Andy Sullivan1 upWilliam McGirt
Rory McIlroy vs. Emiliano Grillohalved
Paul Casey vs. Charl Schwartzel4 and 3Paul Casey
Byeong-Hun An vs. Joost Luiten1 upJoost Luiten
Jordan Spieth vs. Ryan Moorehalved
Yuta Ikeda vs. Hideto Tanihara3 and 1Hideto Tanihara
Bubba Watson vs. Thomas Pietershalved
Scott Piercy vs. Jhonattan Vegas3 and 1Jhonattan Vegas
Hideki Matsuyama vs. Louis Oosthuizen6 and 4Louis Oosthuizen
Ross Fisher vs. Jim Furyk4 and 2Ross Fisher
Patrick Reed vs. Brooks Koepka1 upBrooks Koepka
Kevin Kisner vs. Jason Dufner2 and 1Kevin Kisner
Bernd Wiesberger vs. Thongchai Jaidee1 upBernd Wiesberger
Matt Kuchar vs. Tommy Fleetwood4 and 2Matt Kuchar
Zach Johnson vs. Brendan Steele1 upZach Johnson
Dustin Johnson vs. Jimmy Walker5 and 3Dustin Johnson
Martin Kaymer vs. Webb Simpson3 and 2Martin Kaymer

Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer. He is a member of the Golf Writer's Association of America.



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