Friday, March 24, 2017

Round 2 highlights from the 2017 Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club, Texas

In the second round of the 2017 World Golf Championships - Dell Technologies Match Play, conditions proved to be very difficult with high-wind speeds challenging all players on the course. 
AUSTIN, Texas – Notes and observations from Thursday’s Day 2 of the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play, where tough conditions made for some wild shots and some big stars were eliminated from contention.
For more coverage from Austin Country Club, click here for the Daily Wrap-up.


Charles Howell III blamed it for his shank, Phil Mickelson thought it was fun and Marc Leishman rode it to a 444-yard drive – the wind was wild at Austin Country Club.
Gusts of up to 35mph lashed the course throughout Thursday’s matches making for some very tough shots. Had it not been match play, there would no doubt have been some big numbers on the cards.
“I think it's fun,” Mickelson beamed after his second straight win.
“I mean, I think it's a hard challenge. I think that given the severity of the greens and so forth, certainly there are holes we're going to look ridiculous on. But in match play, you are not adding up every shot and if you happen to hit a bad one and make a bogey or double, it's not that big a deal. It's just relative to your opponent.”
Howell III was one of those players to look ridiculous. Sitting in the greenside bunker at the par-3 17th with a 1-up lead over Rafa Cabrera Bello, Howell III knifed his ball into a ravine.
“(Conditions are) difficult enough to cause a shank,” he said after rebounding to win the last hole and the match. “That was all the wind. It was a tough bunker shot and I was trying to hit a big ole flop shot in there and stop it. I was a bit numb playing the last hole after that.”
Leishman topped a list of nine players to hit 400-plus yard drives on the downwind, downhill par-5 12th – one of the advantages of the day.
“That’s all I’ve got,” he said of his 444-yard bomb. “It was fun to let it fly.”
Reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year Dustin Johnson, no stranger to balls moving on the greens, admitted he was factoring the gusts into all his shots, even on the putting surface.
“You had to play the wind in putts,” Johnson said. “So that made it difficult, especially around the back nine.”
Jon Rahm, another winner, admitted to being baffled at times.
“With this wind, it's hard to control. We hit shots that we thought were perfect like the chip on 13 that went off the green. The second shot on 9. There was a couple of shots that we thought were going to be really, really good and we didn't get the best of bounces or the best of luck or the outcome we hoped for.”

IMPACT OF THE Withdrawals

With three players withdrawing from the event, some anomalies have popped up at Austin Country Club.
Jason Day (family illness) has now been joined by Gary Woodland (family reasons) and Francesco Molinari (wrist injury) on the sidelines.
Group 2: Woodland’s withdrawal ensured second seed Rory McIlroy’s elimination from contention. While he was gifted a win today, the fact Soren Kjeldsen gets a walk over win on Friday sees the 62nd seed go through.
McIlroy would have needed Woodland to beat the Dane on Friday to have a chance.
Group 3: With Day’s absence, his fellow Australian Marc Leishman does not have a match to play on Friday. However, if Lee Westwood can beat Pat Perez, the Bay Hill winner will need to be on site to be part of a 3-man sudden death playoff to advance.
“I’ve only got myself to blame for being in the scenario,” Leishman said after he lost to Perez knowing a win would have seen him through to the round of 16. “I’ll come to the course an hour before Lee and Pat finish and see how it’s going; if I have to warm up, I will.”
Group 8: The same scenario exists for Alex Noren, who now gets a walkover win over Molinari Friday, robbing Thongchai Jaidee and Bernd Wiesberger any chance of advancing.


Match of the Day – The Ryan Moore-Hideto Tanihara – the last match to conclude on Thursday -- came down to the last hole and had five lead changes over the last seven holes. Moore was 3 up at one point on the front nine, but Tanihara pulled to all square on the 12th.
Both players hit shots inside 11 feet on the 18th and made birdie to share the point. The match had even more significance as the result kept the door ajar for all four players in the group. 
Russell Knox lost his Group 11 tie by 3 and 1 to K T Kim.

Player of the Day – Brooks Koepka. He once again needed just 13 holes to close out his match. He's recorded 12 total birdies over the first two days — tied with Soren Kjeldsen — and has never trailed in either match. To say Koepka is on a roll would be an understatement. 
Biggest upset – Ross Fisher, the 47th seed, knocking off No. 4 seed Hideki Matsuyama. Three of the top 10 seeds fell on the second day, but Matsuyama's defeat came to the player with the lowest seed. The Englishman was ahead the entire way, winning the opening hole and extending his lead to 3 up at one point.
Most birdies made – Bubba Watson made seven in 15 holes during his 4 and 3 win over Scott Piercy.




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