Match-by-match results: WGC-Cadillac

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 29, 2015, 10:15 pm

The WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship got underway Wednesday at TPC Harding Park, where numerous high-seeded players fell to their lesser-seeded counterparts. As they say - anything can happen in match play. Follow along here for match-by-match updates from the first round of group play in San Francisco:

Group 1: (1) Rory McIlroy d. (56) Jason Dufner, 5 and 4: Dufner never put up a fight for the world No. 1. The two made matching birdies at the opening hole, then it was pars all the way in for McIlroy and five bogeys for Dufner.

Group 1: (19) Billy Horschel d. (36) Brandt Snedeker, 5 and 4: Horschel was hard to beat, going 6 under through 14 holes without making a single bogey. Snedeker had four birdies, but he made four bogeys and a double bogey, too.

Group 2: (2) Jordan Spieth d. (68) Mikko Ilonen, 4 and 2: It's hard to keep pace with a guy who makes seven birdies through 16 holes, which is what the Masters champ did on Wednesday.

Group 2: (27) Lee Westwood d. (41) Matt Every, 1 up: Westwood and Every combined for 10 bogeys and one double bogey. All square through 17, a par on the final hole was all Westwood needed to go 1 up and win the match.

Group 3: (24) Bill Haas d. (43) Brendon Todd, 3 and 2: Four birdies on the front nine helped Haas to a 4-up lead at the turn. Todd made birdies at 13 and 16, but those came too little, too late.

Group 3: (65) John Senden d. (3) Henrik Stenson, 19 holes: After leading, 1 up, from holes 15-17, Stenson made bogey at the 18th to allow Senden to extend the match. Another bogey by Stenson on the first extra hole gave Senden the win.

Group 4: (4) Bubba Watson d. (69) Miguel Angel Jimenez, 5 and 4: It never looked good for the Most Interesting Man in Golf. Jimenez made four bogeys and no birdies, which meant Watson didn't have to play lights-out. Watson had two birdies and only one blemish - bogey at the par-3 13th.

Group 4: (30) Louis Oosthuizen d. (34) Keegan Bradley, 6 and 5: In the major champ vs. major champ match, Oosthuizen was 4 under through 13, while Bradley had five bogeys to just two birdies in the same span. Oosty made eagle right out of the gate, and never lost a hole and never looked back.

Group 5: (5) Jim Furyk d. (64) George Coetzee, 3 and 2: Furyk was steady on the front nine, and a couple bogeys cost Coetzee. Furyk was 4 up after a birdie at the par-3 13th. Furyk gave one hole back at 14, but then cruised to his 3-and-2 win.

Group 5: (17) Martin Kaymer d. (45) Thongchai Jaidee, 3 and 1: When Kaymer went 1 up through 11, he never let up and a birdie at 14 and par at 17 helped him to a 3-and-1 victory.

Group 6: (60) Marc Leishman d. (6) Justin Rose, 3 and 2: Leishman scored the first upset of the day, knocking off Rose who won last week in New Orleans. The Aussie won the first hole and never trailed in the match.

Group 6: (35) Anirban Lahiri d. (23) Ryan Palmer, 4 and 2: Lahiri birdied the first hole and never looked back, carding six birdies across his first 14 holes without dropping a shot. As can sometimes happen in match play, Palmer lost despite playing 16 holes in 3 under.

Group  7: (49) Charley Hoffman d. (7) Jason Day, 4 and 3: This match was close for much of the day and all square through 11 holes. Hoffman pulled ahead with a birdie on No. 12, then a pair of Day bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 allowed Hoffman to close out the match on the following hole.

Group 7: (25) Zach Johnson d. (39) Branden Grace, 2 up: Johnson was 1 up on Grace for most of the back nine, and a par to Grace's bogey at the 18th gave ZJ the 2-up win.

Group 8: (38) Charl Schwartzel d. (22) Victor Dubuisson, 5 and 4: When Dubuisson hit an errant tee shot at the 14th, he was already 4 down. Which is likely why he had little contemplation over conceding the 14th to Schwartzel, ultimately ending the match in favor of the major champ.

Group 8: (8) Dustin Johnson d. (58) Matt Jones, 3 and 1: The match was all square through 13, but thanks to DJ making birdies at Nos. 14 and 16, he gained control late. Jones bogeyed the 17th to give DJ the 3-and-1 win.

Group 9: (70) Francesco Molinari d. (9) Adam Scott, 5 and 4: Scott opened his round with birdie to go to 1 up, but got to 2 down after bogeys at Nos. 3, 4 and 6. Molinari extended his lead with a couple birdies on the back nine to outlast the 2013 Masters champion.

Group 9: (37) Paul Casey d. (26) Chris Kirk, 22 holes: In the longest match of the day, it was the Englishman who came out on top. Neither player ever had more than a 1-up lead, and it was a bogey at the 22nd hole that was Kirk's undoing.

Group 10: (10) Sergio Garcia d. (57) Tommy Fleetwood, 2 up: Fleetwood was up for most of the day, but the match became all square after 15. Garcia went 1 up after Fleetwood conceded the 16th, then a par to Fleetwood's bogey at the 18th sealed the deal.

Group 10: (31) Jamie Donaldson d. (40) Bernd Weisberger, 1 up: After trailing for most of the front nine, Donaldson took a 1-up lead with a birdie at the ninth. Donaldson and Weisberger traded momentum on the back, but a bogey at the 17th proved costly for Weisberger who went to 1 down with 1 to play and then couldn't force extra holes.

Group 11: (46) Webb Simpson d. (27) Ian Poulter, 3 and 2: The major champion got off to a hot start and never let off, surprising more than just the match-play ninja Poulter along the way.

Group 11: (50) Gary Woodland d. (11) Jimmy Walker, 19 holes: It was an up-and-down match all day. Walker made birdie at the 18th to extend the match, then missed a short par putt on the first extra hole to give Woodland his first victory ever in the WGC Match Play.

Group 12: (53) Marc Warren d. (12) J.B. Holmes, 2 and 1: Holmes had six bogeys and a double bogey through 17 holes. Despite birdies at 8, 9, 12 and 15, the damage had been done and Holmes couldn't recover.

Group 12: (20) Brooks Koepka d. (46) Russell Henley, 1 up: The match was back-and-forth all day, and no one got more than 1 up. When Henley bogeyed the 17th, all Koepka needed was a par on 18 to win, 1 up.

Group 13: (13) Rickie Fowler d. (58) Harris English, 1 up: English led most of the front nine, but Fowler got the match back to all square on the ninth. Then, birdies at Nos. 10, 12 and 16 gave Fowler enough cushion that even a bogey at the 17th didn't deter him.

Group 13: (48) Shane Lowry d. (33) Graeme McDowell, 1 up: The match went all 18 holes, but there were only three holes all day in which Lowry wasn't leading. And of those three holes, the match was all square - G-Mac never led.

Group 14: (31) Hunter Mahan d. (41) Stephen Gallacher, 7 and 6: Mahan was 5 up at the turn, and with birdies at the 10th and 12th, sent Gallacher packing.

Group 14: (61) Ben Martin d. (14) Matt Kuchar, 1 up: Kuchar built an early lead and was 2-up after six, but Martin squared the match with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9. The pair were all square when Martin hit the shot of the tournament, a 243-yard ace on No. 17 to take the lead. He closed out Kuchar with a par on the next hole.

Group 15: (49) Danny Willett d. (29) Ryan Moore, 3 and 2: It was a ho-hum round from both of these guys, but Willett got to 1 up on 10 and never gave a hole back.

Group 15: (15) Patrick Reed d. (61) Andy Sullivan, 2 and 1: Reed was 2 down early, but got the match back to all square on the 10th. Sullivan conceded the 11th to give Reed his first advantage of the match, and despite a miscue at the 14th, was in control on the back nine.

Group 16: (16) Hideki Matsuyama d. (54) Alexander Levy, 5 and 4: Matsuyama opened with a birdie to go 1 up and the match never got back to all square. Matsuyama added four more birdies and recorded a lone bogey en route to his 5-and-4 win.

Group 16: (44) Joost Luiten d. (21) Kevin Na, 19 holes: Joost looked in control early in the match, but went to 1 down after a double bogey on the par-4 14th. With birdie at the 18th, Joost got the match back to all square. On the first extra hole, Na missed a 7-footer for par that would have sent the match to the 20th hole.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.