The Latest: No. 1 Johnson loses to Grace
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the Dell Technologies Match Play (all times local:
Being No. 1 at the Match Play won’t guarantee Dustin Johnson an easy trip into the weekend elimination rounds. Far from it.
Johnson lost to No. 40 Branden Grace in a tight match that wasn’t decided until Johnson pulled a long birdie from the fringe on No. 18 wide left. The loss leaves Johnson 1-1 after two rounds and needing to beat No. 24 Hideki Matsuyama on Friday to have a chance to advance.
Johnson is the top seed for the third consecutive year. He won the tournament in 2017 and lost all three of his matches in 2018.
Grace snatched the lead with a birdie on 17. Grace hasn’t advanced beyond the round-robin matches the last two years but is 2-0 with a chance to win the group against No. 55 Chez Reavie on Friday.
Patrick Reed didn’t have a very good Ryder Cup. The Match Play isn’t going much better for him.
Reed lost the 18th hole at Austin Country Club when his pitch went over the back of the green, and Shane Lowry chipped to birdie range. The match ended in a tie, which eliminated both from advancing out of their group.
Sergio Garcia romped past Andrew Putnam in the other Group 16 match, his second win. That means Reed and Lowry, even if they were to win Friday matches, cannot reach the two points Garcia already has.
Reed is the fifth major champion eliminated on Thursday, joining Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson.
The Match Play has seen its share of big comebacks on Thursday — just not all the way back.
Kevin Na was 6 down with six holes to play against Jordan Spieth when he won the next three holes, and was 4 feet away from winning a fourth straight hole and making Spieth really sweat. Na missed on the 16th hole and the charge ended.
Jon Rahm was 6 down through 10 holes when he won four straight holes. But his putt to win the 15th grazed the lip, and his 3-wood into the par-5 16th was too strong and went into a back bunker. Holmes eventually won on the 17th hole.
Lee Westwood was 4 up with seven to play against Rafa Cabrera Bello when the Spaniard won five of the next six holes to take a 1-up lead to the 18th. Westwood drove into a hazard, found his ball sitting high enough in the thick grass to take a shot, and wound up making an 20-foot birdie to tie the match.
Tiger Woods’ return to match play is anything but easy after losing his second-round match to Brandt Snedeker.
Snedeker’s 2-and-1 victory puts pressure on Woods to beat Patrick Cantlay on Friday to have any chance of advancing to the weekend elimination rounds. Woods is playing in Match Play for the first time since 2013 and is the No. 13 seed in the 64-player field.
Woods had a wild round against Snedeker at the Austin Country Club, including a shot from under a bush. Woods had to get on his right knee and swing left-handed with the club head turned upside. He still knocked it to 4 feet.
The round got then away from Woods when he hit in the water on the riverside No. 13 fairway, allowing Snedeker to win the hole with a bogey to go 2-up.
Former champion Jason Day has been eliminated from Match Play after his second-round loss to Henrik Stenson.
Day lost the first two holes against Stenson and played the entire round from behind before Stenson closed it out 4-and-3. Day lost his opening match Thursday to Jim Furyk.
Day won the title in 2016, then had to withdraw in the opening round a year later to cope with his mother’s illness. He was eliminated before the knockout rounds in 2018 when he lost his final two matches in the round-robin pool play.
Day joins last year’s winner Bubba Watson as recent champions eliminated with a match still to play.
For the third straight year in Match Play, the defending champion will not make it to the weekend.
Bubba Watson was eliminated from group play on Thursday when he lost in 17 holes to Billy Horschel. Watson lost in the opening round to Kevin Na.
A year ago, defending champion Dustin Johnson didn’t win a match in group play. The year before that, defending champion Jason Day withdrew during the opening round to cope with his mother’s illness.
Meanwhile, Na did not go quietly against Jordan Spieth. He was 6 down with six holes to play before winning the next three holes. Na had a 4-foot birdie putt to cut into the deficit even more, but he missed it. Spieth won, 3 and 2.
Tiger Woods remain 1 down to Brandt Snedeker thanks to a remarkable save. Woods was on his right knee to play a left-handed shot from under the bushes and popped it out to 4 feet to make par on the 10th hole.
Abraham Ancer delivered the first victory among 32 matches at Austin Country Club with a 3-and-2 victory over Cameron Smith. Moments later, Paul Casey missed a 7-foot par putt and had to settle for a tie with Charles Howell III.
That eliminated Smith from Group 10, one year after the Australian reached the quarterfinals.
Jordan Spieth was having a much easier time Friday. He was 5 up with five to play against Kevin Na.
Tiger Woods was struggling with the putter. He was 2 down to Brandt Snedeker through seven holes.
Elimination could come one day early for some players in the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Among those who cannot afford to lose Thursday at Austin Country are Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Patrick Reed. Players can win their group with one loss, but no more than that. Only two players in the four previous years of group play have advanced with just one win — Patton Kizzire and Byeong Hun An in 2016 each won a match and tied two others.
Tiger Woods, a winner in his opening match, faced Brandt Snedeker. Mickelson played Jim Furyk.
Jordan Spieth halved his opening match. He led for the first time all week after the second hole against Kevin Na, and already was 3 up through seven holes.