Match-by-match results: WGC-Dell Day 1

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2016, 12:02 am

Play is officially underway at the WGC-Dell 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 1: (1) Jordan Spieth def. (51) Jamie Donaldson, 3 and 2: The top seed cruised rather easily, winning five of the first seven holes against the former Ryder Cup hero. Spieth held a 3-up lead at the turn and barely received a challenge from Donaldson on the inward half.

Group 1: (39) Victor Dubuisson def. (31) Justin Thomas, 3 and 2: Dubuisson was a runner-up at this event two years ago, and he dispatched of Thomas on a day when the American struggled to score. Dubuisson won seven holes during the match, but three of those holes were won with par while a bogey on No. 14 was good enough to take a 3-up lead.

Group 2: (2) Jason Day def. (62) Graeme McDowell, 3 and 2: McDowell got off to an early lead before Day came roaring back, winning four holes from Nos. 8-12. The match took on the feel of a Pyrrhic victory, though, as Day appeared to injure his back late in the round and was barely able to stand by the match's final hole.

Group 2: (36) Thongchai Jaidee def. (26) Paul Casey, 2 and 1: Jaidee scored the day's first upset, defeating Casey who made a run to the quarterfinals at this event last year. Casey won the fifth hole to take an early lead, but Jaidee won the very next hole and never trailed the rest of the way, seizing control with three wins in five holes from Nos. 10-14.

Group 3: (3) Rory McIlroy def. (64) Thorbjorn Olesen, 1 up: The defending champ escaped - barely. McIlroy put forth a sloppy effort and was 2-down with five holes to play, but he turned things around in the nick of time. Wins on Nos. 14 and 15 squared the match, and a par on the home hole was good enough to edge the Dane.

Group 3: (26) Kevin Na def. (46) Smylie Kaufman, 2 and 1: Kaufman held a 1-up lead through 11 holes, but he played the subsequent four holes in 2 over. That allowed Na to turn a slim deficit into a 3-up advantage, and the veteran held on from there for the win.

Group 4: (33) Emiliano Grillo def. (21) J.B. Holmes, 3 and 2: Grillo took care of business quickly, winning five of the match's first seven holes. While Holmes battled back, he never got closer than 3-down during the back nine as the Argentine cruised to a full point.

Group 4: (4) Bubba Watson vs. (63) Patton Kizzire, halved: This was a close contest, as neither player held more than a 1-up lead at any point in the match. Watson appeared to take control when Kizzire bogeyed the par-3 17th, but the rookie turned around and birdied the final hole to scratch out a tie.

Group 5: (58) Jason Dufner def. (5) Rickie Fowler, 2 and 1: Fowler was a popular pick to win this week, but he faces an early deficit after Dufner blew past him in the opening match. Dufner held a 3-up lead through 11 holes, but Fowler won three of the next four holes to square the match. Dufner regained the lead with a birdie on No. 16, then closed out Fowler on the next hole.

Group 5: (27) Byeong-Hun An vs. (47) Scott Piercy, halved: Unlike last year, pool-play matches that are tied after regulation do not go to extra holes. That means An and Piercy both start the week with a half-point, as An held a 3-up lead through 13 but watched as Piercy won three of the final five holes for the draw.

Group 6: (30) Bill Haas def. (41) Chris Wood, 2 and 1: Wood got off to a quick start and held a 2-up lead through eight holes, but Haas battled back and took a lead for the first time in the match on No. 13. Wood failed to win a single hole on the back nine, allowing Haas to draw first blood.

Group 6: (6) Adam Scott vs. (55) Thomas Pieters, halved: Scott appeared to be in control of this match down the stretch, holding a 2-up lead for much of the back nine. But Pieters won Nos. 16 and 17 to square the match, then rolled in a 5-foot par putt on No. 18 to steal a tie from the Aussie.

Group 7: (28) Matt Kuchar def. (48) Anirban Lahiri, 6 and 5: The biggest margin of victory on the opening day belonged to Kuchar, who dominated from the start. He won four of the first eight holes and went eagle-birdie on Nos. 12 and 13 to close out Lahiri, who didn't win a single hole.

Group 7: (7) Justin Rose def. (57) Fabian Gomez, 2 up: Rose made the turn with a 2-up lead and appeared to be on cruise control when he extended the advantage to 4-up through 12. But Gomez won three of the next four holes to give himself a glimmer of hope before running into trouble on No. 18.

Group 8: (49) Robert Streb def. (8) Dustin Johnson, 3 and 2: Johnson didn't win a hole until No. 10, allowing Streb to build a 3-up lead at the turn. Johnson made up a little ground on the back nine, but he never got closer than 2-down allowing Streb to record a relatively stress-free upset win.

Group 8: (37) Kiradech Aphibarnrat def. (22) Jimmy Walker, 2 and 1: Walker has plenty of experience with Texas golf and built an early lead, but Aphibarnrat battled back and notched an impressive win. The Thai won five holes in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 7-12 and Walker suffered an ill-timed double bogey on No. 16.

Group 9: (17) Phil Mickelson def. (42) Matthew Fitzpatrick, 5 and 4: One of the few early blowouts went the way of Mickelson, as the veteran schooled the youngest player in this week's field. Mickelson took control with four straight wins on Nos. 6-9, and Fitzpatrick never even won a single hole during the match.

Group 9: (9) Patrick Reed def. (53) Daniel Berger, 1 up: Reed never trailed after a hot start that included wins on four of the first five holes, but Berger battled back to make things interesting. Berger was 2-down with two holes to go, but extended the match with a birdie on No. 17 before Reed closed him out with a birdie on the final hole.

Group 10: (18) Brooks Koepka def. (40) Billy Horschel, 3 and 2: Horschel got off to a hot start and led 3-up after just six holes, but Koepka launched an impressive rally. A win on No. 7 was followed by four straight on Nos. 9-12, as Koepka won seven of the match's final 10 holes.

Group 10: (10) Danny Willett vs. Jaco Van Zyl, halved: This was another closely-contested match, as each player won three holes while the remaining 12 were halved. Van Zyl led at the turn, but it was Willett who led through 15 holes. Van Zyl squared the match on No. 16, and the final two holes were halved.

Group 11: (54) Chris Kirk def. (11) Branden Grace, 3 and 1: Grace starred at the Presidents Cup in Korea, but he ran into a buzzsaw in Kirk in his opening match. The American won each of the first three holes and played his first six holes in 5 under, buildling a 3-up advantage at the turn. From there, Grace only won a single hole.

Group 11: (32) Russell Knox vs. (38) David Lingmerth, halved: Knox and Lingmerth are friends and live near each other in Northeast Florida, and they played to a draw on Wednesday. Neither player held more than a 1-up lead at any time, and Knox's birdie on the par-3 17th drew him even and ultimately earned him a half-point.

Group 12: (20) Kevin Kisner def. (43) Soren Kjeldsen, 2 and 1: Kisner won the first two holes of the match and never looked back. The American built a 3-up lead through five holes, and appeared in total control with a 4-up advantage through 13 holes. While Kjeldsen battled back to cut his deficit in half, Kisner eventually closed him out for a decisive win.

Group 12: (52) Rafael Cabrera-Bello def. (12) Hideki Matsuyama, 1 up: Cabrera-Bello won two of the first four holes and never trailed against Matsuyama, taking a decisive lead with a birdie on No. 17. It's a big win for the Spaniard, who is one of seven players in the field not yet qualified for the Masters but would make the field should he advance to the quarterfinals.

Group 13: (13) Sergio Garcia def. (59) Lee Westwood, 1 up: This was a back-and-forth contest, as Garcia held a 2-up lead through three holes before Westwood won four in a row. Garcia then won four straight holes on Nos. 9-12 and never trailed again, ultimately closing out Westwood with an eventful par on No. 18.

Group 13: (25) Marc Leishman vs. (45) Ryan Moore, halved: Leishman never trailed in the match and appeared on his way to victory, but he only left with a half-point. Moore won the 12th hole to trim his deficit to 1-down, then escaped with a draw after Leishman made a sloppy bogey on No. 18.

Group 14: (14) Zach Johnson def. (60) Marcus Fraser, 4 and 3: This was an easy win for the reigning Open champ, who birdied three of his first four holes to build an early advantage. Johnson held a 1-up lead at the turn and then took control with three wins in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 11-14.

Group 14: (44) Martin Kaymer def. (24) Shane Lowry, 1 up: Kaymer won a closely contested match that saw neither player hold more than a 1-up lead. Lowry held a lead on three separate occasions, but he conceded on No. 16 to level the match and then Kaymer took his final lead of the day with a par on No. 17.

Group 15: (15) Brandt Snedeker def. (56) Charley Hoffman, 2 and 1: Snedeker was the first player to get a point on the board, turning a close match into a victory with a decisive closing stretch. Hoffman actually held a 1-up lead through 13 holes, but Snedeker won each of the next three holes before closing out the match with a par on No. 17.

Group 15: (19) Charl Schwartzel def. (34) Danny Lee, 1 up: The South African is making his first start since winning in Tampa, and he continued that momentum by eking out a win against the Kiwi. Schwartzel never trailed, but he also never held more than a 2-up lead. Lee leveled the match with a par on No. 16, but Schwartzel birdied the next hole to take the lead for good.

Group 16: (16) Louis Oosthuizen def. (61) Matt Jones, 2 and 1: Jones held his own and actually led 1-up through 11 holes, but Oosthuizen emerged on the back nine. The South African rolled in three birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16, and closed out the match with a par on No. 17.

Group 16: (29) Andy Sullivan def. (35) Bernd Wiesberger, 3 and 2: Sullivan won three of the first five holes, led 4-up at the turn and never trailed in the match. While Wiesberger won three straight holes from Nos. 11-13, it was too little, too late.

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Teenager Im wins season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.

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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.