Rookie Kang In Command
The first round was suspended due to darkness yesterday and 18 players, including Kang, returned this morning at 7:30 A.M. to complete two more holes. Kang, who finished at even-par before play was suspended Friday night, came back and birdied 17 and 18. She finished at 69 (-2), one shot off the lead.
However, a six-and-a-half hour break didnt stop Kang from maintaining her hot streak. Playing in the second to last group, she immediately jumped to 6-under-par for the tournament with birdies on one, two, three, and five. She two-putted for birdie from 24 feet on the par-5 466-yard seventh hole and turned at 7-under-par, two-shots ahead of her nearest competitor.
'I was so nervous yesterday during the first round,' stated the 22-year-old Kang, the winner of the 2002 PAC-10 Conference Championship. 'It was my first real tournament as a professional and Im not used to traveling on my own. But, once I started making birdies, I knew I would be okay. Today, my putting was unbelievable. I was having so much fun with my playing partners and the gallery.'
Kang double-bogeyed 11 but answered with birdies on 12, 13, and she drained a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 to extend her lead by three shots.
Much like many other former collegiate standouts on the FUTURES Tour, Kang parted from Arizona State University to enter the professional ranks. She made her professional debut at the 57th U.S. Womens Open Championship and shot rounds of 79 ' 75 = 154. Kang missed the 36-hole cut.
'I put too much pressure on myself during the Open and I didnt play well,' remarked Kang after her round today. 'I was too serious and was not having fun. It was a great experience and taught me what to expect as a professional.'
Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England, also fired a six-under-par 65 for a 137 (-5) total. Her bogey-free round was made up of birdies on one, two, six, eight, 13, and 14. Hall, who was tied for 26th after the first round, moved into second spot with Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, Isabelle Beisiegel of Norman, Okla., and Natalie Wong of Montebello, Calif.
Hall, the 1997 LPGA Rookie of the Year, stated, 'I played steady and really enjoyed it out there. This is the best round Ive played in a long time. I was hitting my irons close, giving me a lot of birdie chances. Luckily, I rolled in six of them.'
Watch: Reed races in 40-footer to put away Spieth
Three up with three holes to play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Patrick Reed missed an opportunity to close out his match with Jordan Spieth when Spieth won the 16th hole with a birdie.
But Reed wouldn't let the match move to 18. Putting for birdie from the apron, 40 feet from the hole, at the par-3 17th, Reed raced in this putt to end the match.
With the win, Reed moved to 3-0-0 for the week and advanced to the weekend at Austin Country Club.
Garcia's win-win situation: Move on or baby time
AUSTIN, Texas – Given his status as one of Europe’s preeminent Ryder Cup players, Sergio Garcia’s record at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is nothing short of inexplicable.
In 15 starts at the event, the Spaniard has played the weekend just once – in 2010 when he lost in the semifinals to Ian Poulter – and since the event pivoted to round-robin play he’s never made it out of the group stages.
His fortunes have changed dramatically this year, with Garcia going undefeated in pool play and cruising to the Sweet 16 following a 3-and-1 victory over Xander Schauffele on Friday.
“I would love to have done a little better than I have,” said Garcia, who will play Kyle Stanley in the Round of 16 early Saturday. “I have had some good weeks here. But not probably as good as I should have. So hopefully this week it will be better.”
Garcia made no secret of the source of his turnaround following the birth of his first child last Wednesday, a girl named Azalea. Even on Friday when he found himself 2 down through 11 holes and in danger of not advancing he kept an upbeat attitude.
“The way I looked at it, when I was 2 down, we're going to try to turn it around, but if we don't, it means that I get to spend more time with [his wife] Angela and Azalea for the weekend,” Garcia said. “I tried to look at it in a good way.”
DeLaet: WGC's robin-robin format 'sucks'
Graham DeLaet isn't teeing it up at Austin Country Club this week because he didn't qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but that doesn't mean he lacks an opinion on the event's format.
DeLaet hopped on social media Friday during Day 3 of the WGC-Match Play to torch the round-robin format that's been in place for three years, saying he much preferred the single elimination that was in place when he played in 2014.
"Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home, he tweeted. "That’s a good format. This one sucks."
Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home. That’s a good format. This one sucks.— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) March 23, 2018
DeLeat's comments may be the strongest to date, but he's not alone in his opposition to pool play. Several players lamented Friday's "meaningless" matches earlier this week, and Henrik Stenson cited the lack of a do-or-die atmosphere as his reason for skipping the event.
Watch: Kuchar makes ace at WGC-Dell Match Play
In his bid to advance to the weekend at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Matt Kuchar aced the par-3 seventh hole Friday at Austin Country Club.
With an 8-iron from 181 yards, Kuchar landed his ball short of the flag and watched it roll and roll ... and drop.
Golly gee Matty, let's raise the roof.— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 23, 2018
Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuch with a hole-in-one! pic.twitter.com/EnolkLxlqw
The hole-in-one moved Kuchar 3 Up in match against Ross Fisher.
The last hole-in-one at the Match Play came in Sunday's consolation match last year, when Hideto Tanihara aced the same hole before later losing to Bill Haas.