Top seeds Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy all made it through the round-robin phase at the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas on Friday to advance to the 16-man knockout stage.
Bubba Watson was the highest seed to fall, the fourth-ranked American exiting Group 4 with a 1-1-1 record after losing to J.B. Holmes. Patton Kizzire, seeded 63rd in the 64-man tournament, advanced from the group with a win and two halves.
Defending champion McIlroy set up a showdown with British Open winner Zach Johnson at the Austin Country Club.
McIlroy posted an identical 2-0-1 overall record as his Friday opponent Kevin Na, but advanced as the winner of his four-man group when he won a playoff at the second extra hole after Na drove into a hazard.
Six players finished the stage with 3-0-0 records — Spieth, Day, Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed and Bill Haas.
Third-seeded McIlroy was relieved just to have made it through.
“All three of my matches this week have been tough,” the Northern Irishman said. “I did not get off to the best of starts again, but found my rhythm in the middle of the round, and started to make some birdies and hit some good shots when I needed to. It took a mistake from him to get over the line.”
Spieth continued his sizzling form in the city where he went to the University of Texas, buoyed by a supportive crowd as he beat fellow American Justin Thomas 3-and-2.
“Jumping off to a three-up lead early on the front nine for the third straight day takes a lot of stress off,” said Spieth, who is to defend his Masters title in two weeks.
Next up for Spieth is South African Oosthuizen, who was looking forward to facing the world No. 1 in front of a partisan crowd.
“I think it is going to be against 10,000 to 15,000 people, so that should be a challenge, but I am looking forward to it,” the 2010 British Open champion said. “I am playing well. I just need to keep playing the way I am playing.”
Second-seeded Day advanced when his English opponent Paul Casey pulled out after six holes, citing illness.
Haas advanced by beating Australian Adam Scott.
“There was not much of an edge out there,” Haas said, revealing that Scott had jokingly told him he needed to up his game if he wanted to have a chance yesterday.
“I struggled all day from tee to green. Adam gave me a few holes. When we shook hands, he said, ‘I do not know what to say about that, but you need to play better tomorrow.’”
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017