Match by match: Round 1 WGC-Accenture results

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 20, 2014, 12:13 am

One of golf's most exciting days didn't disappoint Wednesday at Dove Mountain. Here is how things stand after the opening round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship:

HOGAN BRACKET

Jimmy Walker (6) def. Branden Grace (11), 5 and 4: One of the hottest players in the world, Walker had little trouble with the South African, winning Nos. 3-5 – all of which Grace bogeyed – to take a comfortable lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Walker will face Fowler in the second round.

Rickie Fowler (14) def. Ian Poulter (3), 2 and 1: Fowler took a 3-up lead through seven holes, then hung on against the scrappy Poulter, who won here in 2010 and boasted a 22-11 record heading into this week. With a chance to send the match to the 18th, Poulter missed a 10-foot birdie putt. Fowler will play Walker in Round 2. 

Bill Haas (7) def. Miguel Angel Jimenez (10), 4 and 3: Haas erased three years of frustration with an emphatic beatdown of the Mechanic. Haas, who had lost in the first round each of the past three years, won Nos. 2 and 3 and never looked back. He’ll face Sergio Garcia in Round 2.

Charl Schwartzel (4) def. Kevin Stadler (13), 3 and 2: Schwartzel never trailed in his match against the Phoenix Open winner. The South African took control with back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 to advance to the second round for the fifth time in six years. He’ll face Jim Furyk in Round 2.  

Sergio Garcia (2) def. Marc Leishman (15), 22 holes: The Spaniard escaped a first-round scare after making an 8-foot birdie on the fourth extra hole. Garcia should have been able to close out Leishman in regulation, but he made bogey from the edge of the green on 18. Nevertheless, Garcia, who has two wins in his last three starts, will face Bill Haas in Round 2. 

Jim Furyk (5) def. Chris Kirk (12), 2 and 1: Furyk dropped the first two holes, then ran off three wins in a row to take a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. The match-play veteran closed out the match with a 5-foot par putt on 17, advancing to the second round for the second year in a row. Now, he will face Charl Schwartzel in Round 2. 

Rory McIlroy (1) def. Boo Weekley (16), 3 and 2: McIlroy got bounced in the first round a year ago but wasn't about to repeat the feat on Wednesday, taking a 3-up lead at the turn. Weekley entered this week's event with injury concerns and ultimately was unable to keep the former world No. 1 from cruising into the second round.

Harris English (9) def. Lee Westwood (8), 5 and 3: English won earlier this season at Mayakoba and easily advanced past Westwood, who continues to search for his form after parting ways with Sean Foley earlier this month. English remains one of the game's hottest younger players and now will take on McIlroy in one of the most intriguing second-round matchups.


SNEAD BRACKET

Bubba Watson (3) def. Mikko Ilonen (14), 2 and 1: The Northern Trust Open winner had a back-and-forth battle, grabbing a 2-up lead through four holes before falling all the way to 2 down standing on 13 tee. From there, Watson won four of the next five holes to close out the match and keep alive his perfect first-round record. Watson will now face Jonas Blixt. 

Jonas Blixt (11) def. Keegan Bradley (6), 2 and 1: All square on 12 tee, the Swede won Nos. 12, 13 and 15 to drop the match-play dynamo and win the opener in his Match Play debut. Now, Blixt will face Watson in Round 2. 

Peter Hanson (15) def. Dustin Johnson (2), 4 and 3: Johnson, who hadn’t finished worse than sixth in four starts this season, is a first-round loser for the fifth time in six years. Hanson reached the quarterfinals here in 2012. Now, the big Swede will face Victor Dubuisson in Round 2. 

Victor Dubuisson (7) def. Kevin Streelman (10), 5 and 4: The Frenchman made quick work of the American in his Match Play debut. Streelman made five bogeys in his first-ever appearance at Dove Mountain. Now, Dubuisson will face Hanson in Round 2. 

Hideki Matsuyama (5) def. Martin Kaymer (12), 2 and 1: One down on 14 tee against the former world No. 1, Matsuyama ran off wins on 14 and 15 to hold on to a narrow victory in his Match Play debut. Now, he will face Gary Woodland in Round 2.

Graeme McDowell (4) def. Gary Woodland (13), 19 holes: G-Mac was 4 down through seven holes, and 3 down with three to play, only to stage an improbable comeback and rally to win his opening match in extra holes. Now, McDowell will face Matsuyama in Round 2. 

Richard Sterne (16) def. Zach Johnson (1), 5 and 4: Johnson entered as one of the hottest players around, but Sterne gained the upper hand as the former Masters champ made only two birdies all day long. As a result, the 16-over-1 upset that has yet to occur in college basketball once again rears its head at the year's first WGC event. Now, he will face Mahan in Round 2.

Hunter Mahan (8) def. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (9), 3 and 2: Mahan, who won here in 2012 and lost in last year’s finals, pulled ahead on the back nine with wins on Nos. 10 and 11, then sealed the victory with a birdie on 15. Now, he will face Richard Sterne in Round 2.  


JONES BRACKET

George Coetzee (14) def. Steve Stricker (3), 3 and 1: Stricker dug himself an early hole in his 2014 debut, as Coetzee won each of the first two holes and made the turn with a 3-up advantage. Stricker battled back down the stretch, trimming the deficit to 1 down through 14, but his missed birdie attempt at No. 17 sealed the upset win for the South African. Now, he will face Patrick Reed in Round 2.

Patrick Reed (11) def. Graham DeLaet (6), 1 up: This was one of the more closely contested matches of the morning session, as the lead was never more than 1 up after the sixth hole. Reed gained the upper hand with a par on the 17th, though, and held on as DeLaet's lengthy birdie try on the closing hole came up just short. He'll now face Coetzee Thursday in a matchup of two surprise winners.

Billy Horschel (10) def. Jamie Donaldson (7), 6 and 5: This one was seemingly over before it started. While the pair only played 13 holes, Horschel managed to win eight of them, including four of the first six. The American then turned a somewhat close match into a rout by winning four of five from Nos. 9-13. Now, he'll face Jason Day in Round 2.

Jason Day (2) def. Thorbjorn Olesen (15), 2 up: The Aussie got all he could handle from Olesen, who won Nos. 15 and 16 to square the match after Day appeared to take control. The final two holes went to Day, however, who flagged his approach to the final green to essentially put the match on ice. He'll now face Horschel in a second-round matchup pitting two of the game's rising stars.

Webb Simpson (5) def. Thongchai Jaidee (12), 3 and 2: Simpson faced an early deficit after losing two of the first four holes, but battled back against Jaidee and gradually regained an advantage thanks to consistent play. The former U.S. Open champ played 15 holes of bogey-free golf Thursday, and as a result moved rather easily into the second round. Now, he will face Brandt Snedeker in Round 2.

Brandt Snedeker (4) def. David Lynn (13), 20 holes: Snedeker played from behind the whole afternoon and appeared to be on his way out before winning two of the final five holes to force overtime. After the 19th hole was split, the former FedEx Cup champ saved par to eliminate Lynn on the second extra hole and set up a match with Simpson, his former partner from last year's Presidents Cup.

Henrik Stenson (1) def. Kiradech Aphibarnrat (16), 2 and 1: The No. 1 overall seed had a scare in Round 1, but powered through to the second round after pouring in a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and tacking on an 8-foot birdie on 17. Stenson was 1 down with five to play before the late rally, appearing as if he might become the fourth No. 1 overall seed to lose in the past five years. Instead, he will face the winner of the Louis Oosthuizen-Nick Watney match in Round 2. 

Louis Oosthuizen (8) def. Nick Watney (9), 1 up: Oosthuizen won five straight holes during the middle of the match to turn the tide, but Watney did not go quietly. The American notched three straight birdies from Nos. 15-17 to force the match to the 18th tee, but a two-putt par from the former Masters champ on the final hole was enough to put an end to the rally.


PLAYER BRACKET

Thomas Bjorn (6) def. Francesco Molinari (11), 2 and 1: Bjorn won the first hole Wednesday and, while he never led by more than 2 up, he also never trailed in the match. Molinari trimmed the Dane's lead to 1 up with a birdie on No. 16 but Bjorn returned the favor on the following hole, knocking in a 20-footer to clinch the match. Now, he will face Jordan Spieth in Round 2.

Jordan Spieth (3) def. Pablo Larrazabal (14), 2 up: This pair halved eight of their first 10 holes, but Spieth took control by winning three across a four-hole stretch from Nos. 12-15. Larrazabal cut the deficit to 1 up heading to 18 but his tee shot found the sand, and his hopes were dashed when his approach shot caught the lip and stayed in the bunker. Now, he will face Bjorn in Round 2.

Matt Kuchar (2) def. Bernd Wiesberger (15), 3 and 2: The defending champ had to sweat a bit on the front nine, but Kuchar took command of the match by winning four straight holes from Nos. 9-12. He appeared to clinch the match on the 14th green but forgot to move his coin back, resulting in a loss of hole and sparing Wiesberger temporarily. Kuchar was able to seal the deal (again) two holes later to move on to Thursday, when he will face Ryan Moore.

Ryan Moore (7) def. Joost Luiten (10), 1 up: Moore never trailed and held a 3-up advantage through 13 holes, but still had to survive a Luiten comeback that fell just short when the Dutchman's 15-foot birdie try at 18 grazed the edge. Moore now advances to face Kuchar in the second round, a match that will pit a pair of former U.S. Amateur champs against each other.

Matteo Manassero (12) def. Luke Donald (5), 5 and 4: The young Italian schooled the former world No. 1 Thursday, winning five of the first 10 holes. Manassero held on from there, sending the former Match Play champ to a surprisingly early exit after Donald won only a single hole during the match. Manassero will now face Jason Dufner.

Jason Dufner (4) def. Scott Stallings (13), 19 holes: Dufner was very much on the brink of elimination, 3 down with five holes to play before staging an impressive comeback. The reigning PGA champ won three of four holes to move the match into overtime, then closed out Stallings on the first extra hole. He'll now face Manassero after advancing to the second round for the first time in three career starts at Dove Mountain.

Justin Rose (1) def. Scott Piercy (16), 1 up: The Englishman was 1 up heading into 18, then two-putted from 50 feet to hold off Piercy. Making just his second start of the season, Rose hasn’t advanced past the second round since 2007. Now, he will face Els in Round 2.

Ernie Els (8) def. Stephen Gallacher (9), 19 holes: Gallacher missed 5-foot putts on both 17 and 18 that would have won him the sloppily played match in regulation, then he bogeyed the first extra hole to hand the victory to Els. Now, the Big Easy will face Rose in Round 2. 

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.