Thursday, March 28, 2019

Europeans' good start to WGC-Dell Match play

Day One Report
It was a hugely successful opening day for the stars of the European Tour at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, with Francesco Molinari, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey among the 18 Members to register victories, while Tom Lewis halved his match with World Number Three Brooks Koepka.
There were a plethora of notable stories at Austin Country Club in Round One of the Group Stage, with Stenson overcoming Phil Mickelson 2&1 in a rerun of one of the greatest final round battles in Open Championship history back in 2016.
Lucas Bjerregaard and Lewis both produced massive upsets as the Dane beat World Number Five Justin Thomas 3&2, while the Englishmen Lewis – who was playing on the Challenge Tour a mere six months ago - clinched a half point against three-time Major Champion Koepka.
Matt Wallace also won on his debut, overcoming former Major Champion Keegan Bradley, as did Justin Harding who staged a remarkable comeback to beat Matt Fitzpatrick, having been two down stepping onto the 16th tee.
Ryder Cup legend Sergio Garcia beat the current Race to Dubai leader Shane Lowry 4&2, while Ian Poulter – a former winner of this event – sealed a two-up victory over Kevin Kisner. Tiger Woods won his opening Group Stage match, beating Aaron Wise 3&1, while four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy cruised to a 5&4 triumph over Luke List.
Player quotes
Henrik Stenson
“You could say it maybe wasn't the most well-played match from either one of us, but there were still some good golf in there. I was pretty happy with my performance today. I hit some really nice iron shots and made a couple of important putts, as well.
“Phil is always worth the price of admission. He hit some fabulous short-game shots on three or four moles holes. He's in some areas where you just can't get up and down, and he's Phil Mickelson and he gets it up and down. So that's always tough to compete against.”
Francesco Molinari
“I played really well, made some nice putts at the beginning and throughout the match. So I’m really happy the way I played. Obviously, it's a little bit easier when you start that way, but you still have to play a lot of golf and close the match out.
“So there were a couple of moments where I could have done maybe better, but all in all a very good day. It's great to start with a win. It doesn’t mean a lot unfortunately, with this format. So I need to show up tomorrow and try to play some similar golf to today.”
Ian Poulter
“It was a fun match. Up, down, up, all square with a couple to go, so it was interesting. When you're two-up with four to play, you hit a great shot in there to about five feet and Kevin had a putt from about 15 or 17 feet. You've always got to expect him to hole it, which he did. But I wasn't expecting to miss my 5-footer there. So that was a bit of a shame.
“And then I hit driver-driver on 16, which I'd like to play the hole over again. It doesn't matter now. It kind of got up on to the green and it just trickled off and obviously he holes out from 70 yards, he goes square, and it's really game on from a position where I kind of had control of it.
“And I had a big putt there at 17 to leave myself just under the hole to give myself a right-to-left putt, which was a good one. I holed it, and obviously up and down from the last.”
Tom Lewis
“Every game will be tough this week. I knew that I was going to get a tough draw, being one of the last guys in. Brooks is a nice guy, I've known him through the European Tour and it was a good day. We weren't at our best. I handed him the first couple of holes. It's a bit frustrating but I'm pleased I made that birdie on the last hole.
“I've been working on my wedge play the last couple of weeks, and it’s obviously shown through there. I pulled it the tiniest bit. I knew that the slope wasn't really going to kick in. I was pleased to have a putt for the winning hole.”
Lucas Bjerregaard
“The last couple holes were a little more stressful than I was hoping. I hit a good drive on 15 and then, it was a pretty simple pitch shot in there that I messed up pretty bad. But I played well today, I didn't make many mistakes. I made that one on 15 and hit a shot in the hazard on three. Other than that I put it in some good spots and drove the ball nicely.
“I didn't give too much away. And then I made a couple of good putts where JT had hit it closer than me and he missed those. So there was a couple of match play moments in there that were pretty key for me there.”



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