Saturday, April 29, 2017

Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 1

Play is underway at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Follow along here to see how the first matches played out, and who is in line to advance to the Round of 16:

Group 2: Soren Kjeldsen (62) def. Rory McIlroy (2), 2 and 1: In the day’s biggets upset, Kjeldsen birdied four consecutive holes late on the back nine to stun McIlroy, one of the pre-tournament favorites. McIlroy had a 1-up lead with five to play, but Kjeldsen, the 41-year-old from Denmark who doesn’t have a top-25 in any of his seven starts this year, ran off four consecutive birdies to put the heat on McIlroy. He closed out the match with a tee shot to 3 feet on 17 – his fifth consecutive approach shot inside 10 feet.

Group 2: Gary Woodland (33) def. Emiliano Grillo (26), 3 and 2: Down two holes early to Grillo, who was coming off a good week at Bay Hill, Woodland went 6 under the rest of the way, including the usual match-play concessions. Woodland reached the finals of this event in 2015, during the first year of the round-robin format. 

Group 5: Hideto Tanihara (54) def. Jordan Spieth (5), 4 and 2: In another big upset on Day 1, Spieth never led against the 38-year-old Japanese star, who has 13 career titles overseas. Spieth beat himself, playing his last nine holes in 3 over and hitting only one green to end his chances. It’s the first time in four years that Spieth has lost his opening match. 

Group 9: Brooks Koepka (20) def. Kevin Kisner (34), 6 and 5: Koepka has struggled this season, with four missed cuts in six starts, but he had no problem dispatching Kisner, who last week shared the 54-hole lead at Bay Hill. Koepka made five birdies in the first seven holes and lost just one hole en route to the blowout win.  

Group 12: Charl Schwartzel (24) def. Ben An (45), 6 and 5: And to think, this match was all square on the sixth tee. Schwartzel won three of the next four holes – all with par – to build a big lead, then poured it on with back-to-back wins on Nos. 12 and 13 to close out the match and head to an early lunch. 

Group 12: Paul Casey (12) def. Joost Luiten (60), 2 and 1: Casey, who has a strong record in this event, won the 15th with a conceded par and a birdie on the par-5 16th to put away Luiten, who had clawed back from an early 2-down deficit. Casey improved to 20-12-1 in this event. 

Group 15: Branden Grace (15) def. Andy Sullivan (52), 4 and 2: Grace, who went 5-0 two years ago at the Presidents Cup, stayed hot in the match-play format, jumping all over the Englishman. Grace took a 1-up lead at the turn, but poured it on with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14 and concessions on both of the back-nine par 5s. 

Group 15: William McGirt (48) def. Brandt Snedeker (19), 2 up: Thrown for a loop when his longtime putter broke about five minutes before his tee time, Snedeker coughed up a 1-up lead with four holes to play. McGirt, playing his first match-play event since 2007, went 2 under during that stretch, including a conceded birdie on 18. 

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