Biggest winners, losers after Day 3 at Match Play

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SAN FRANCISCO – From golf’s answer to Mayweather-Pacquiao to the capricious nature of match play, here are some of the winners and losers from Day 3 at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play:

WINNERS

Golf fights: If only the other 95 matches this week had as much intensity as the Keegan Bradley-Miguel Angel Jimenez battle royale. And here’s the best part: They were essentially playing for a few bottles of Rioja.

Rory McIlroy: His highly anticipated duel with BillyHo didn’t disappoint, as the world No. 1 closed birdie-birdie-birdie to force overtime. Quit worrying about his flight to Vegas and his decidedly first-world problem – knocking off Hideki would be another huge statement.

Lee Westwood: Playing a stud half his age, and with nothing to lose, the 42-year-old turned back the clock with some short-game magic to defeat the hottest player in the world.

Rickie Fowler: His goals Friday should have been to avoid (1) injury and (2) expending too much energy. Done and done. Waxing G-Mac, typically a match-play beast, with eight birdies can only help his confidence heading into the weekend.

Jordan Spieth: Yes, he lost, but the dude was still 16 under par in 49 holes. He’s a monster favorite next week at The Players.

LOSERS

Match play: It’s a fun change of pace for players and fans, but there’s a reason why they go head to head once a year: Only five of the top 20 seeds remain, and just two of the top 10. Oy.

Matt Every: If his 0-3 record wasn’t bad enough, the Bay Hill champ wrapped up his week by getting smoked, 8 and 6, by the previously winless Mikko Ilonen. At least he still collects about $50,000 for his (uninspired) efforts.

Groups 7 and 10: Instead of Sergio vs. J-Day on Saturday morning, it’ll be … Branden Grace taking on Tommy Fleetwood. Are you not entertained?!

Jimmy Walker: Sure, he was in the second-toughest group, but it’s still a stunner to see him go 0-3. That he lost on the final day to Ian Poulter, who groaned before his match that the result was “pointless," only makes the loss worse.

Halves: One of the tweaks tournament officials definitely should consider in Year 2 of this experiment is awarding half-points to those who are tied after 18 holes. Twenty-eight round-robin matches went into extras. Is bringing more players back into the mix a bad thing?