AUSTIN, Texas – Professional Golf doesn’t have an election Sunday, but every now and then when the seeds line up and the math gives way to magicians, you get a hectic Friday.
It’s the kind of day that You appreciate match play and forget the ongoing debate between knockout and pool play for at least another year. A day like Friday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, when the applause – that’s right, applause at the Austin Country Club – was coming your way at dizzying pace.
The day started normal enough. Dylan Frittelli, a geography major from Austin, South Africa, was the first to stamp his ticket for the weekend just after lunch and was the first 64th-place player to make the knockout round since transitioning to pool play in 2015 still on the course and behind Will Zalatoris at the time, but the math was on his side after Tony Finau closed Jason Kokrak to end his pod drama.
« My caddy mentioned to me on 16 green, that we were going down 18 and Tony was up 1 so it was backed up for me so I had respite as I went that hill to 17 tee box, « said Frittelli.
Tommy Fleetwood was next to that Bryson DeChambeau held back in a possible Ryder Cup opener. The only thing missing was Francesco Molinari, Fleetwood’s partner in Paris two years ago, and the continent’s crowds were singing « Tommy, Tommy, Tommy ».
But as the weekend bracket slowly emerged from the mist of the pool game, there were two moments in quick succession that turned a fun day into a frenzy.
The Scot Robert MacIntyre stood on the 18th tee behind Adam Long on a single hole and hit « one of the best and one of the luckiest golf shots ever I’ve beaten in my life « .
Robert MacIntyre needed something special to move forward in WGC match play and boy did he provide it.
From a distance of 371 meters, MacIntyre’s tee shot raced up the hill to within three feet of the hole when Dustin Johnson, who was playing in the group in front of him, put in his putt. The shot put a walkable eagle for a half and a place in the weekend field.
« I had to let it fly, but my miss with this flight is in danger that is left, » said MacIntyre. “But I was 1 down, I had to win the hole so I thought let’s go. Let’s get the lowly going. “
The cheers still echoed across Austin CC as Sergio Garcia made his mark on the theater of the day. After losing to Matt Wallace (3 and 2) in Round 3, the Spaniard swapped three pars with Lee Westwood to see who was advancing into the one-and-ready phase of his group as he stepped to the fourth tee.
« I really don’t know what to say. Yes, a hole-in-one is amazing, of course, ”Garcia said of his walk-off ace from 160 meters to move forward.
Ian Poulter took a 3-0 lead because he was Ian Poulter and due to last year’s pandemic, every lunar cycle will turn him into a superhero for the Ryder Cup years through 2021.
« Well, mine was obviously extremely boring, as I just heard. Sergio takes a hole-in-one against Westy to move forward and MacIntyre only pushes it to 3 feet and nudges the eagle to get half through, ”laughed Poulter. « I just took a 2-1 win [over Lanto Griffin] and I’m through, so I think it was pretty lame. »
Lame. Threatens. What ever. When it comes to the Englishman and match play, he usually saves his exploits until the end, like on Sunday with a title or the Ryder Cup on the line.
Matt Kuchar came to Poulter as the only player who finished his 2nd : 1 win over Kevin Kisner set perfect pool play records after Kisner beat him in the final of the last WGC match game in 2019.
They weren’t all theater winners. Jon Rahm-Ryan Palmer’s matinee, one of only two day 3 bouts between players who won their first two games, featured a hole bisected with double bogey (# 14) and required additional holes to allow Rahm to advance .
Dustin Johnson and Kevin Na had an interesting and difficult situation at the 11th hole in their match on the third day.
There is also the problem of a completely wrong bracket. Only one player from the top 20 (Rahm) advanced to the weekend, an exodus that included Johnson No. 1 in the world. But even that loss came with some entertainment as Kevin Na – who defeated Johnson, 1 – DJ on the 11th green was teaching about allowed putts and an early shovel (we all have a friend who was guilty of the early shovel ) and as expected, Johnson didn’t respond well to lectures.
« His [putt] was down and he was 6 inches and obviously it’s good, but I hadn’t said anything and he hit it, » explained Na, als he was asked what happened on the 11th green. « I was freezing in there and looking at [Caddy Kenny Harms] and I didn’t mean to say that is a punishment, you will lose the hole. I wanted to say you know what, that was good anyway. “
Also gone for the weekend are second-placed Justin Thomas, fourth-placed Collin Morikawa, fifth-placed Seed DeChambeau and sixth-placed Xander Schauffele.
If this were the NCAA tournament, they could cancel the rest of the competition . But in golf, the action is entertainment, not sowing. If you haven’t enjoyed Frantic Friday at Austin Country Club, you are not enjoying match play golf.
FROM Golf Channel Digital
BY Rex Hoggard
FROM Golf Channel Digital
For Jon Rahm the turning point on Friday at the WGC Match Play was a vent of more than 300 meters to clear his head.
Here is a look at matchups and start times for the first round of the knockout. Game in the WGC Match Play in Austin, Texas.
Here is the group ranking for the pool game at the Match Play Championship 2021 WGC-Dell Technologies in Austin, Texas.
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