Toms Prevails in Playoff
Toms fired a final round 5-under-par 66 to force a playoff with Weir, who birdied four of his final five holes in regulation to finish the tournament at 13-under-par. Frank Lickliter finished third, two shots off the lead. 54-hole leader Bradley Hughes tied for 5th following a final-round 1-over-par 72.
Last year, Weir took the outright lead into the final round at Kingsmill, but carded a Sunday 70 to miss out on a playoff, which was eventually won by Notah Begay III, by one shot.
This year, the left-handed Canadian started the final round four shots back of Hughes. After making the turn in 2-under-par 34, Weir birdied the 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 18th holes for an inward half of 5-under-par 30. Weir's overall 64 gave him the clubhouse-lead at 13-under-par.
Toms started the day two off the lead, but moved to the top of the leaderboard with a birdie 2 at the par-3 13th. Toms then took sole possession of the lead at 14-under-par with another birdie at the par-5 15th. However, he gave the shot back on the next hole, when he failed to get up and down from off the green at the par-4 16th.
Toms wasn't able to birdie either of the final two holes in regulation, but he did convert a pair of crucial par saves.
Tied at 13-under, Toms and Weir went back to the 18th tee. Toms found the fairway. Weir flirted with danger in the left-hand rough. From the fairway, Toms was able to place his approach shot onto the green, though his ball finished 45 feet and a double breaker away from the hole.
Weir was unable to hack his second shot onto the putting surface. From below the green, the 1999 Air Canada champion chipped up to 10 feet, but was unable to convert the par save.
Faced with a difficult birdie putt, Toms was able to coax his first stroke to within five feet of the cup. Following Weir's miss, Toms calmly knocked in his par putt for his first title of the season.
'Just like Michelob Light, it tastes pretty good,' Toms said. 'But, yeah, it is very satisfying to win here. Hopefully, if I can finish out strong, maybe I can improve on my position I had last year.'
Last year, Toms finished 10th in earnings. With his win this week, and the $540,000 first-place check that goes along with it, Toms moves from 30th on the money list to 16th. The top 30 prior to the Tour Championship earn a birth into the season's final event.
This is Toms' first victory since the 1999 Buick Challenge. Last week, he tried to defend his title, but missed the cut at Callaway Gardens.
Toms' win was a bit of a surprise, not because of who he was, but because of how he felt. Friday, Toms considered walking off the course due to a bad back. Instead, he took a 'handful of Advil' from Paul Azinger and kept going.
'Saturday morning on the range Azinger came up to me and he said, `Man I didn't realize you were 30th on the money list. You need to suck it up out there,' I said yes, and I did. The week work out great.'
David Duval knows a thing or two about back pain. Last week's Buick Challenge winner was commissioned to the couch for 10 week following the British Open.
This week, Duval was in contention through 13 holes, but, showing his back isn't completely healed, the two-time Michelob champion bogeyed his final five holes on Sunday to fall into a tie for 19th.
Lickliter birdied two of his first three holes to get to 11-under, but could get no lower. Seeking his first career victory, Lickliter parred the final six holes to finish in solo third place.
Hughes began the day with a one-shot lead, but bogeyed two of his first three holes to lose his edge. The 33-year-old Australian managed two birdies and an eagle in the final round, but also carded five bogeys.
Still, Hughes' tie for 5th was good enough for a $105,375 paycheck. That moves the Aussie from 126th on the 2000 money list into 96th place.
'I guess I'll have to tell the officials to tear-up my entry form for Q-School,' Hughes said with a smile.
Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup
AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.
Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.
“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.
The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.
“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”
The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.
Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go
AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.
There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.
Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.
Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.
“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”
But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.
The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.
That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.
Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.
Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.
“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.
While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.
For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.
“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.
But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.
Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.
They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.
“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”
Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.
“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”
Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.
It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”
Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head
But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.
One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.
It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.
And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.
Hey, whatever works.
Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'
AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.
Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.
The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.
“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”
Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.
“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”