DELL MATCH: 3OFTOP4 SEEDS CAN’T ADVANCE
Spieth survives as several other stars are swept out of Match Play.
Jordan Spieth managed to steady his game Thursday while a nasty wind whipped through trees, created white caps on the
lake and tried to topple the flags adorning the slick greens at Austin Country Club. After his round, Spieth proclaimed that
the conditions possibly were the “toughest I’ve ever seen it out here.”
The former Texas star, with a decisive win over Yuta Ikeda, stayed in contention for a spot in Saturday’s round of 16 at the WCG-Dell Technologies Match Play.
And that was good news for the tournament since so many other stars have been upset by lesser seeds.
Spieth, who is the fifth seed, clinched his 4-and-2 victory on the 16th hole, where the day before he conceded victory to Hideto Tanihara.
“It was a must win,” Spieth said. “It was a tough day to play golf. With the wind I thought par would win the majority of the holes, just getting under par would be a
magnificent score. This was a step in the right direction.”
The winds swirled from all directions. Tour meteorologist Wade Stettner said the peak gust was measured at 40 miles per hour, with the wind at its most blustery between 3 and 4 p.m. The sustained winds were 25 mph.
Conditions will change Friday, but not immediately for the better. Tee times Friday were moved up by two hours, with the first golfers now starting at 7:30 a.m. Storms are expected between 10 a.m. and noon. If lightning is within six miles of the
course, play will be suspended until the weather clears.
Golfers have one more guaranteed round Friday. Then the field drops to 16.
Spieth next will play Ryan Moore, the star of last year’s Ryder Cup. Moore and Tanihara halved their match Thursday. Tanihara will win the group if he beats Ikeda on Friday. Otherwise, because there are no head-to-head tiebreakers in the Dell format, it’s conceivable that there could be a playoff for the spot.
Dustin Johnson, the world’s topranked golfer, won easily again for the second straight afternoon. He beat Martin Kaymer, 3 and 2.
But Rory McIlroy, the 2015 winner and the tournament’s second seed, already is out of the running for weekend play.
McIlroy lost in his opener to Soren Kjeldsen. He won Thursday after Gary Woodland withdrew from the tournament before his match with McIlroy. But Kjeldsen clinched the group victory after dispensing Emiliano Grillo. He was set to play Woodland on Friday, so he’ll get another point.
Kjeldsen said he’ll likely bring his two sons to the course Friday for a practice session to prep for the round of 16.
“The weather forecast isn’t great,” Kjeldsen said. “We’re just going to take it easy.”
Sergio Garcia, the seventh seed who has a home in Austin, stayed alive for a weekend spot with his 4-and-3 win over Kevin Chappell.
The wind, Garcia said, “was making you feel a little stupid. It was very gusty. Sometimes you were hitting a good shot that was going 20 yards shorter than you were hoping and sometimes you were hitting a shot that looked good and it was going 30 yards (too) long. It wasn’t easy, but I played well so I’m very happy.”
Other top seeds weren’t so fortunate in the wind.
Justin Thomas, who already has won three PGA Tour events this season, lost his match to Kevin Na. It’s Na, the No. 46 seed, who now is in control for the spot to Saturday’s round of 16 because he’s 2-0 so far.
Patrick Reed, who is seeded ninth, lost to Kevin Kisner, one up. It was Reed’s second straight loss, so he’s out of the running for the round of 16.
Fourth-seeded Hideki Matsuyama dropped his match to Ross Fisher to go 0-1-1 for the tournament.
And defending Masters champion Danny Willett lost his second straight match. He’s the 11th seed. He lost to Bill Haas 6 and 5.
World No. 1 and top Match Play seed Dustin Johnson moved to 2-0 by knocking off two-time major champion Martin Kaymer, 3 and 2.
Ryan Moore halved his match Thursday against Hideto Tanihara to move to 0-0-2. He’ll face Jordan Spieth in Friday’s third round.