Met their match: WGC-Match Play brackets set

By Ryan LavnerMarch 21, 2017, 12:55 am

Golf’s version of March Madness gets underway Wednesday at Austin Country Club.

But unlike the NCAA Tournament, which saw favorites Villanova, Duke and Louisville fail to survive the first weekend, there will be no early exits this week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

All 64 players are guaranteed to play at least three matches. Sixteen groups of four players compete in pool play Wednesday through Friday. The winner of each group advances to the single-elimination knockout stage over the weekend.

Sixty-four of the top 70 players in the world are in the field, with Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Adam Hadwin opting not to play.

“It’s fun how it’s done now,” said Jordan Spieth, who is back in Austin, where he helped Texas win a NCAA team title in 2012. “It’s an opportunity for us to play more rounds, but also for the fans and the viewing audience to see players they want to see play multiple rounds instead of just one round on Wednesday and you’re out. The draw is the draw – you’ve got to play well no matter what.” 

Full bracket for the WGC-Dell Match Play

Tee times for Day 1 of the WGC-Dell Match Play

The top player with the most difficult draw is Hideki Matsuyama, who will have to face Louis Oosthuizen, who is 13-3 in this event the past three years, Ross Fisher, who tied for third at the WGC-Mexico earlier this month, and Jim Furyk, who has plenty of match-play experience.

Not far behind is the All-American Group 9, where top seed Patrick Reed will have to get past Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner and Jason Dufner. Interestingly, the lower seeds arrive in Texas playing the best in the group: Kisner, who tied for second at Bay Hill, and Dufner, who has four consecutive top 25s.  

The top overall seed is Dustin Johnson, but he has a treacherous road ahead, with four major champions in his group – reigning PGA champion Jimmy Walker, two-time winner Martin Kaymer and former U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson. The Match Play is the only WGC event that Johnson hasn’t won.

Defending champion Jason Day drew Bay Hill winner Marc Leishman, veteran Lee Westwood and fiery Pat Perez.

Of course, there is no easy route to victory when the best players in the world go head to head.

Since switching to the round-robin format, players ranked in the top 2 in the world have won each of the past two years: Rory McIlroy in 2015 and Day last year, when he shook off an early-week back injury to capture the title.

McIlroy has an 11-2-1 record in this event, after cruising to victory at TPC Harding Park. The player he beat in the final there – Gary Woodland – will get a chance at a rematch in pool play.

“I’m proud of my match-play record,” McIlroy said, “I feel like I’m good in that part of the game. I really pride myself on playing match play.”

Here are all of the groups:

Group 1: Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker (18), Martin Kaymer (41), Webb Simpson (58)

Group 2: Rory McIlroy, Emiliano Grillo (26), Gary Woodland (33), Soren Kjeldsen (62)

Group 3: Jason Day, Marc Leishman (28), Lee Westwood (43), Pat Perez (56)

Group 4: Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen (23), Ross Fisher (47), Jim Furyk (51)

Group 5: Jordan Spieth, Ryan Moore (32), Yuta Ikeda (37), Hideto Tanihara (54)

Group 6: Justin Thomas, Matt Fitzpatrick (27), Kevin Na (46), Chris Wood (49)

Group 7: Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm (21), Kevin Chappell (38), Shane Lowry (53)

Group 8: Alex Noren, Francesco Molinari (25), Bernd Wiesberger (36), Thongchai Jaidee (57)

Group 9: Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka (20), Kevin Kisner (34), Jason Dufner (59)

Group 10: Tyrrell Hatton, Rafa Cabrera Bello (22), Jeunghun Wang (40), Charles Howell III (61)

Group 11: Danny Willett, Russell Knox (17), Bill Haas (42), K.T. Kim (64)

Group 12: Paul Casey, Charl Schwartzel (24), Byeong-Hun An (45), Joost Luiten (60)

Group 13: Bubba Watson, Thomas Pieters (30), Scott Piercy (39), Jhonattan Vegas (55)

Group 14: Phil Mickelson, J.B. Holmes (31), Daniel Berger (35), Si Woo Kim (63)

Group 15: Branden Grace, Brandt Snedeker (19), William McGirt (48), Andy Sullivan (52)

Group 16: Matt Kuchar, Tommy Fleetwood (29), Zach Johnson (44), Brendan Steele (50)

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.