The Latest: Garcia squeaks out a win in Match Play
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the Dell Technologies Match Play (all times local):
Sergio Garcia birdied the 18th hole and outlasted Shubhankar Sharma of India in the opening session of Match Play.
Eight matches went the distance at Austin Country Club, and all but one went at least 15 holes on a day of big rallies and tight outcomes. Jon Rahm overcame a back-nine deficit to earn a halve against Keegan Bradley. Paul Casey won his match on the 18th hole when Russell Henley’s tee shot caromed off a tree and went into a creek.
The round robin play resumes Thursday. Defending champion Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are among those who must win to have any hope of winning their groups and advancing to the weekend.
Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson lost in the opening round and now face a tough road to the weekend in the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Bernd Wiesberger of Austria ended Johnson’s seven-match winning streak and had plenty of help in a 3-and-1 victory.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein caught McIlroy a little flat and built too big of a lead for McIlroy to overcome. McIlroy birdied five in a row on the back nine at Austin Country Club until losing on the 17th hole.
Mickelson, who won the last World Golf Championship in Mexico three weeks ago, made only one birdie in losing to Charles Howell III.
Only four players in this round-robin format have won their group after losing the first match.
Rory McIlroy played another flawless back nine. This time, it wasn’t enough.
McIlroy was 5 down with five holes to play when he ran off three straight birdies. McIlroy’s comeback stalled when he missed a birdie putt from the fringe at the 17th, and Peter Uihlein won, 2 and 1.
Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, is making his Match Play debut.
This is the second straight year that McIlroy has lost in the opening round. Soren Kjeldsen beat him a year ago.
Dustin Johnson also is in danger of not winning his group after losing in 17 holes to Bernd Wiesberger. Only four players in the last two years have lost on Wednesday and still won their four-man group. Johnson in 2016 is one of them.
Zach Johnson earned a halve against Matt Kuchar, and it felt like a win.
A big win.
Kuchar was 4 up with four holes to play in the Match Play when Johnson won the last four holes with birdies. Johnson twice made putts inside 15 feet, made it from 6 feet on the 17th and then drove to the front of the 18th green and two-putted for birdie.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson would take that. The world’s No. 1 player was 2 down with two holes to play against Bernd Wiesberger.
Rory McIlroy is on the ropes in Match Play.
Peter Uihlein seized control around the turn at Austin Country Club, winning the ninth hole with a birdie and the 10th hole when McIlroy made bogey. Uihlein was 5 up through 10 holes, a surprise only because McIlroy was coming off a victory at Bay Hill three days ago.
Jordan Spieth won three straight holes and outlasted Charl Schwartzel in a battle of former Masters champions. Justin Thomas had to go 18 holes to beat Luke List, who played the last 11 holes without a putter. List went to swat hedges with his putter out of disgust, not realizing there was a wall behind the hedges. It bent his putter grip, and he had to use a sand wedge to putt the rest of the way.
The four players in Group 15 are tied after the opening round of the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Pat Perez rallied from 3 down with seven holes to play to halve his match with Si Woo Kim. Perez stuffed his tee shot to 3 feet for birdie on the 17th to square the match, and Kim missed a 10-footer on the 18th that would have won it.
In the other match, Webb Simpson also rallied from 3 down at the turn to halve his match with Gary Woodland. Simpson also tied the match with a tee shot to 3 feet on the 17th.
It’s the first time in three years of this format that all four players from one group earned a half-point in the opening round.
Meanwhile, Luke List has made it to the 18th hole against Justin Thomas, even though List has had to putt with his sand wedge. Thomas was 1 up playing the final hole.
It’s hard enough to play the No. 2 player in the world. Making it tougher on Luke List is that he’s putting with a wedge in the Dell Technologies Match Play.
List’s putter somehow became damaged, so he is using the blade of his wedge to putt. It’s not helping the cause, as Justin Thomas has raced out to a 3-up lead through 12 holes.
Oddly enough, List would be able to keep using his putter under the modernized rules that take effect next year.
Just not on Wednesday.
Justin Thomas and Luke List meet again, this time with a lot less at stake.
Thomas defeated List in a sudden-death playoff a month ago at the Honda Classic, denying List his first PGA Tour victory. They faced off Wednesday in the Dell Technologies Match Play. Because the format is round robin in the 16 four-man groups, losing an opening match does not mean being eliminated from the tournament.
But it helps to win. A year ago, three players lost the opening match and wound up advancing from their group.
In other opening-day matches at Austin Country Club, Tommy Fleetwood faced Ian Poulter, defending champion Dustin Johnson played Bernd Wiesberger and Sergio Garcia makes his debut as a father when he plays Shubhankar Sharma of India.