Molinari takes early lead at Wells Fargo

By Will GrayMay 4, 2017, 10:58 pm

It's a new venue this week for the Wells Fargo Championship, but players still managed to find plenty of birdies in the opening round. Here's how things stand after the first day in Wilmington, where a former Ryder Cupper holds a slim advantage:

Leaderboard: Francesco Molinari (-6), Grayson Murray (-5), Brian Campbell (-5), Alex Noren (-5), J.B. Holmes (-5), Seamus Power (-4)

What it means: Molinari set the early pace, but he was briefly caught by Campbell and then passed by Murray. When the two Americans dropped shots down the stretch, it left Molinari atop the leaderboard as he looks for his first official PGA Tour win. Among those one shot off the pace are Campbell, who earned the Tour's first slow-play penalty in 22 years last week, and Holmes, who won this event at Quail Hollow in 2014.

Round of the day: Molinari has been a consistent presence on worldwide leaderboards since his win at the Italian Open in the fall, and that trend continued with an opening-round 66. Molinari made just two bogeys while rolling in eight birdies, including five in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 3-9 to distance himself from the rest of the early wave.

Best of the rest: Murray has received more attention for his Twitter presence than his on-course game in recent weeks, having endured a run of five straight missed cuts. But he finished T-14 last week at the Zurich and then poured in nine birdies en route to an opening 67. Murray birdied three of his first four holes and was the only player to reach 7 under before closing with bogeys on his final two holes.

Biggest disappointment: Carl Pettersson was one of few players with some experience at Eagle Point, but it didn't help him during the opening round. Pettersson is a member at this week's venue and currently holds the course record with a 62, but he was 17 shots higher Thursday during a 7-ovver 79 that included no birdies and left him ahead of only two players in the 156-man field.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Molinari's consistent ball-striking makes him a clear player to watch, but he'll also receive plenty of heat from the chase pack. Among those to watch are Jon Rahm, who opened with a 3-under 69, and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who showed no signs of injury while signing for a 2-under 70 in his first round since March.

Shot of the day: Molinari was left of the 18th green with his approach, but he managed to hole the subsequent 25-foot chip shot for a closing birdie, his eighth of the day.

Quote of the day: "As far as physically, no issues. That's a good thing. I just need to get some rounds in." - Johnson

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Watch: Reed races in 40-footer to put away Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 10:19 pm

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.

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Garcia's win-win situation: Move on or baby time

By Rex HoggardMarch 23, 2018, 9:45 pm

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.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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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.”

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DeLaet: WGC's robin-robin format 'sucks'

By Grill Room TeamMarch 23, 2018, 9:20 pm

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."

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.

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Watch: Kuchar makes ace at WGC-Dell Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 9:09 pm

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.

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.