Match-by-match results: WGC-Cadillac

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 29, 2015, 10:15 pm

The WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship got underway Wednesday at TPC Harding Park, where numerous high-seeded players fell to their lesser-seeded counterparts. As they say - anything can happen in match play. Follow along here for match-by-match updates from the first round of group play in San Francisco:

Group 1: (1) Rory McIlroy d. (56) Jason Dufner, 5 and 4: Dufner never put up a fight for the world No. 1. The two made matching birdies at the opening hole, then it was pars all the way in for McIlroy and five bogeys for Dufner.

Group 1: (19) Billy Horschel d. (36) Brandt Snedeker, 5 and 4: Horschel was hard to beat, going 6 under through 14 holes without making a single bogey. Snedeker had four birdies, but he made four bogeys and a double bogey, too.

Group 2: (2) Jordan Spieth d. (68) Mikko Ilonen, 4 and 2: It's hard to keep pace with a guy who makes seven birdies through 16 holes, which is what the Masters champ did on Wednesday.

Group 2: (27) Lee Westwood d. (41) Matt Every, 1 up: Westwood and Every combined for 10 bogeys and one double bogey. All square through 17, a par on the final hole was all Westwood needed to go 1 up and win the match.

Group 3: (24) Bill Haas d. (43) Brendon Todd, 3 and 2: Four birdies on the front nine helped Haas to a 4-up lead at the turn. Todd made birdies at 13 and 16, but those came too little, too late.

Group 3: (65) John Senden d. (3) Henrik Stenson, 19 holes: After leading, 1 up, from holes 15-17, Stenson made bogey at the 18th to allow Senden to extend the match. Another bogey by Stenson on the first extra hole gave Senden the win.

Group 4: (4) Bubba Watson d. (69) Miguel Angel Jimenez, 5 and 4: It never looked good for the Most Interesting Man in Golf. Jimenez made four bogeys and no birdies, which meant Watson didn't have to play lights-out. Watson had two birdies and only one blemish - bogey at the par-3 13th.

Group 4: (30) Louis Oosthuizen d. (34) Keegan Bradley, 6 and 5: In the major champ vs. major champ match, Oosthuizen was 4 under through 13, while Bradley had five bogeys to just two birdies in the same span. Oosty made eagle right out of the gate, and never lost a hole and never looked back.

Group 5: (5) Jim Furyk d. (64) George Coetzee, 3 and 2: Furyk was steady on the front nine, and a couple bogeys cost Coetzee. Furyk was 4 up after a birdie at the par-3 13th. Furyk gave one hole back at 14, but then cruised to his 3-and-2 win.

Group 5: (17) Martin Kaymer d. (45) Thongchai Jaidee, 3 and 1: When Kaymer went 1 up through 11, he never let up and a birdie at 14 and par at 17 helped him to a 3-and-1 victory.

Group 6: (60) Marc Leishman d. (6) Justin Rose, 3 and 2: Leishman scored the first upset of the day, knocking off Rose who won last week in New Orleans. The Aussie won the first hole and never trailed in the match.

Group 6: (35) Anirban Lahiri d. (23) Ryan Palmer, 4 and 2: Lahiri birdied the first hole and never looked back, carding six birdies across his first 14 holes without dropping a shot. As can sometimes happen in match play, Palmer lost despite playing 16 holes in 3 under.

Group  7: (49) Charley Hoffman d. (7) Jason Day, 4 and 3: This match was close for much of the day and all square through 11 holes. Hoffman pulled ahead with a birdie on No. 12, then a pair of Day bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 allowed Hoffman to close out the match on the following hole.

Group 7: (25) Zach Johnson d. (39) Branden Grace, 2 up: Johnson was 1 up on Grace for most of the back nine, and a par to Grace's bogey at the 18th gave ZJ the 2-up win.

Group 8: (38) Charl Schwartzel d. (22) Victor Dubuisson, 5 and 4: When Dubuisson hit an errant tee shot at the 14th, he was already 4 down. Which is likely why he had little contemplation over conceding the 14th to Schwartzel, ultimately ending the match in favor of the major champ.

Group 8: (8) Dustin Johnson d. (58) Matt Jones, 3 and 1: The match was all square through 13, but thanks to DJ making birdies at Nos. 14 and 16, he gained control late. Jones bogeyed the 17th to give DJ the 3-and-1 win.

Group 9: (70) Francesco Molinari d. (9) Adam Scott, 5 and 4: Scott opened his round with birdie to go to 1 up, but got to 2 down after bogeys at Nos. 3, 4 and 6. Molinari extended his lead with a couple birdies on the back nine to outlast the 2013 Masters champion.

Group 9: (37) Paul Casey d. (26) Chris Kirk, 22 holes: In the longest match of the day, it was the Englishman who came out on top. Neither player ever had more than a 1-up lead, and it was a bogey at the 22nd hole that was Kirk's undoing.

Group 10: (10) Sergio Garcia d. (57) Tommy Fleetwood, 2 up: Fleetwood was up for most of the day, but the match became all square after 15. Garcia went 1 up after Fleetwood conceded the 16th, then a par to Fleetwood's bogey at the 18th sealed the deal.

Group 10: (31) Jamie Donaldson d. (40) Bernd Weisberger, 1 up: After trailing for most of the front nine, Donaldson took a 1-up lead with a birdie at the ninth. Donaldson and Weisberger traded momentum on the back, but a bogey at the 17th proved costly for Weisberger who went to 1 down with 1 to play and then couldn't force extra holes.

Group 11: (46) Webb Simpson d. (27) Ian Poulter, 3 and 2: The major champion got off to a hot start and never let off, surprising more than just the match-play ninja Poulter along the way.

Group 11: (50) Gary Woodland d. (11) Jimmy Walker, 19 holes: It was an up-and-down match all day. Walker made birdie at the 18th to extend the match, then missed a short par putt on the first extra hole to give Woodland his first victory ever in the WGC Match Play.

Group 12: (53) Marc Warren d. (12) J.B. Holmes, 2 and 1: Holmes had six bogeys and a double bogey through 17 holes. Despite birdies at 8, 9, 12 and 15, the damage had been done and Holmes couldn't recover.

Group 12: (20) Brooks Koepka d. (46) Russell Henley, 1 up: The match was back-and-forth all day, and no one got more than 1 up. When Henley bogeyed the 17th, all Koepka needed was a par on 18 to win, 1 up.

Group 13: (13) Rickie Fowler d. (58) Harris English, 1 up: English led most of the front nine, but Fowler got the match back to all square on the ninth. Then, birdies at Nos. 10, 12 and 16 gave Fowler enough cushion that even a bogey at the 17th didn't deter him.

Group 13: (48) Shane Lowry d. (33) Graeme McDowell, 1 up: The match went all 18 holes, but there were only three holes all day in which Lowry wasn't leading. And of those three holes, the match was all square - G-Mac never led.

Group 14: (31) Hunter Mahan d. (41) Stephen Gallacher, 7 and 6: Mahan was 5 up at the turn, and with birdies at the 10th and 12th, sent Gallacher packing.

Group 14: (61) Ben Martin d. (14) Matt Kuchar, 1 up: Kuchar built an early lead and was 2-up after six, but Martin squared the match with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9. The pair were all square when Martin hit the shot of the tournament, a 243-yard ace on No. 17 to take the lead. He closed out Kuchar with a par on the next hole.

Group 15: (49) Danny Willett d. (29) Ryan Moore, 3 and 2: It was a ho-hum round from both of these guys, but Willett got to 1 up on 10 and never gave a hole back.

Group 15: (15) Patrick Reed d. (61) Andy Sullivan, 2 and 1: Reed was 2 down early, but got the match back to all square on the 10th. Sullivan conceded the 11th to give Reed his first advantage of the match, and despite a miscue at the 14th, was in control on the back nine.

Group 16: (16) Hideki Matsuyama d. (54) Alexander Levy, 5 and 4: Matsuyama opened with a birdie to go 1 up and the match never got back to all square. Matsuyama added four more birdies and recorded a lone bogey en route to his 5-and-4 win.

Group 16: (44) Joost Luiten d. (21) Kevin Na, 19 holes: Joost looked in control early in the match, but went to 1 down after a double bogey on the par-4 14th. With birdie at the 18th, Joost got the match back to all square. On the first extra hole, Na missed a 7-footer for par that would have sent the match to the 20th hole.

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

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“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”

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How will players game-plan for Carnoustie?

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:31 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Thomas took a familiar slash with his driver on the 18th tee on Monday at Carnoustie and watched anxiously as his golf ball bounced and bounded down the fairway.

Unlike the two previous editions of The Open, at what is widely considered the rota’s most demanding test, a particularly warm and dry summer has left Carnoustie a parched shade of yellow and players like Thomas searching for answers.

Under the best circumstances, Carnoustie is every bit the unforgiving participant. But this week promises to be something altogether different, with players already dumbfounded by how far the ball is chasing down fairways and over greens.

Brown is beautiful here at Royal Dark & Dusty.

But then it’s also proving to be something of a unique test.

Where most practice rounds at The Open are spent trying to figure out what lines are best off tees, this is more a study of lesser evils.

Tee shots, like at the par-4 17th hole, ask multiple questions with few answers. On his first attempt, Thomas hit 2-iron off the tee at No. 17. It cleared the Barry Burn and bounded down the middle of the fairway. Perfect, right? Not this year at Carnoustie, as Thomas’ tee shot kept rolling until it reached the same burn, which twists and turns through both the 17th and 18th fairways, at a farther intersection.

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“A hole like 17 in this wind, the trick is getting a club that will carry [the burn],” said Thomas, who played 18 holes on Monday with Tiger Woods. “If that hole gets downwind you can have a hard time carrying the burn and keeping it short of the other burn. It’s pretty bizarre.”

The sixth hole can offer a similar dilemma, with players needing to carry their tee shots 275 yards to avoid a pair of pot bunkers down the right side of the fairway. Yet just 26 yards past those pitfalls looms a second set of bunkers. Even for the game’s best, trying to weave a fairway wood or long-iron into a 26-yard window can be challenging.

“Six is a really hard hole, it really just depends on how you want to play it. If you want to take everything on and have a chance of hitting an iron into a par 5, or just kind of lay back and play it as a three-shot hole,” Thomas shrugged.

It’s difficult to quantify precisely how short the 7,400-yard layout is playing. It’s not so far players are flying the ball in the air, particularly with relatively little wind in the forecast the rest of the week, so much as it is a question of how a particular shot will run out after it’s made contact with the firm turf.

As the field began to get their first taste of the bouncy fun, one of the earliest indications something was askew came on Sunday when Padraig Harrington, who won The Open the last time it was played at Carnoustie in 2007, announced to the social world that he’d hit into the burn on the 18th hole.

“This time it was the one at the green, 457 yards away,” the Irishman tweeted. “The fairways are a tad fast.”

Most players have already resigned themselves to a steady diet of mid-irons off tees this week in an attempt to at least partially control the amount of run-out each shot will have.

Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, hadn’t played a practice round prior to his media session, but could tell what’s in store just from his abbreviated range session on Monday. “Extremely baked out,” he said.

The conditions have already led Spieth and his caddie, Micheal Greller, to conjure up a tentative game plan.

“You might wear out your 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you’re used to,” Greller told him.

But even that might not be the answer, as Tommy Fleetwood discovered on Sunday during a practice round. Fleetwood has a unique connection with Carnoustie having shot the course record (63) during last year’s Dunhill Links Championship.

The Englishman doesn’t expect his record to be in danger this week.

In fact, he explained the dramatically different conditions were evident on the third hole on Sunday.

“There’s holes that have been nothing tee shots, like the third. If you play that in the middle of September or October [when the Dunhill is played] and it’s green and soft, you could just hit a mid-iron down the fairway and knock it on with a wedge,” Fleetwood said. “Yesterday it was playing so firm, the fairways really undulate and you have bunkers on either side, it’s actually all of a sudden a tough tee shot.”

The alternative to the iron game plan off the tee would be to simply hit driver, an option at least one long-hitter is considering this week if his practice round was any indication.

On Sunday, Jon Rahm played aggressively off each tee, taking the ubiquitous fairway bunkers out of play but at the same time tempting fate with each fairway ringed by fescue rough, which is relatively tame given the dry conditions. But even that option has consequences.

“It’s kind of strange where there’s not really a number that you know you’re going to be short,” said Fleetwood, who played his Sunday practice round with Rahm. “[Rahm] hit a drive on 15 that was like 400 yards. You just can’t account for that kind of stuff.”

Whatever tactic players choose, this Open Championship promises to be a much different test than what players have become accustomed to at Carnoustie.