WGC Dell Technologies Match Play First Round Highlights

The group stage is officially in full swing at the 2019 WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. Austin Country Club is home to 64 of the top players in the world this week each looking to take home golf’s own version of March Madness. Wednesday kicked off the start of the group play portion of this year’s WGC Match Play event.

In a rare feat, especially on the opening day, 29 of the opening 32 matches featured an outright winner. Each winner Wednesday earned an early two points in their group with now 13 of the 16 groups holding a tie for first heading into Thursday. For the three matches that were halved each player earned one point toward their group stage and quest to the round of 16.

Statistically speaking, over the past four years of WGC Match Play’s round robin format, 49 of the 64 players (77%) to advance to the round of 16 from the group play format have won their opening match of the tournament. With so many of the top players across the PGA, the European Tour and all over the world hungry for that all important first win the highlights rained in during the opening day of play in Austin. Last Word on Golf has your current group standings and some of the top highlights from Wednesday’s first day of group play.

Key: Group Leader (Record), In Contention (Record), Mathematically Eliminated (Record)

Group 1

T1-Dustin Johnson (1-0-0), Branden Grace (1-0-0)
T3-Hideki Matsuyama (0-1-0), Chez Reavie (0-1-0)

The number one ranked golfer in the world Dustin Johnson took care of business to kick off the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. Johnson turned in a dominant  4&3 victory over Chez Reavie to cement his place as an early favorite for his group and the tournament.

Group 2

T1-Justin Rose (1-0-0), Gary Woodland (1-0-0)
T3-Eddie Pepperall (0-1-0), Emiliano Grillo (0-1-0)

There are few better ways for a golfer to begin his day than how Gary Woodland started his opening round Wednesday at the WGC Match Play event. On his second shot at the par-4 1st hole Woodland slam dunked his approach for an early eagle on his way to winning his opening match against Eddie Pepperall.

Group 3

1-HaoTong Li (1-0-0)
T2-Brooks Koepka (0-0-1), Tom Lewis (0-0-1)
4-Alex Noren (0-1-0)

In one of the few halved matches of the day third overall ranked competitor Brooks Koepka couldn’t put away the Englishman Tom Lewis. Koepka grabbed the lead at 17 with a birdie only for Lewis to answer right back at 18 to even the match and earn both players an opening day point.

Group 4

T1-Rory McIlroy (1-0-0), Justin Harding (1-0-0)
T3-Matthew Fitzpatrick (0-1-0), Luke List (0-1-0)

Having to stay on pace with the reigning PLAYERS Champion, and tournament favorite Rory McIlroy, Justin Harding was dialed in during his first group stage match against Matthew Fitzpatrick. The South African stayed patient at the 17th to get up and down to halve the hole before winning the match outright at 18.

Group 5

T1-Matt Wallace (1-0-0), Lucas Bjerregaard (1-0-0)
T3-Justin Thomas (0-1-0), Keegan Bradley (0-1-0)

Going head to head with the 2017 PGA Player of the Year, Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard stepped up and put away Justin Thomas 3&2 during Wednesday’s opening round.

Group 6

T1-Bryson DeChambeau (1-0-0), Marc Lieshman (1-0-0)
T3-Kiradech Aphibarnrat (0-1-0), Russell Knox (0-1-0)

It may not have been a slam dunk eagle but from off the beaten path following a wayward tee shot Bryson DeChambeau turned in one of the top up and down par saves potentially of the year. With opponent Russell Knox on the green and ready to take a 1-Up lead DeChambeau powered his second shot out of the deep grass to set up a par putt to halve the hole. DeChambeau would take the momentum and win the match 3&1 over Knox.

Group 7

T1-Francesco Molinari (1-0-0), Thorbjorn Olesen (1-0-0)
T3-Webb Simpson (0-1-0), Satoshi Kodaira (0-1-0)

Group 8

T1-Jon Rahm (1-0-0), Matt Kuchar (1-0-0)
T3-J.B. Holmes (0-1-0), Si Woo Kim (0-1-0)

Group 9

T1-Xander Schauffele (1-0-0), Tyrell Hatton (1-0-0)
T3-Rafa Cabrera Bello (0-1-0), Lee Westwood (0-1-0)

Group 10

T1-Paul Casey (1-0-0), Charles Howell III (1-0-0)
T3-Cameron Smith (0-1-0), Abraham Ancer (0-1-0)

After making history last week at the Valspar Championship, England’s Paul Casey continued his momentum at the WGC Match Play Wednesday. Casey defeated Abraham Ancer early with 5&3 victory to take a share of the group lead with Charles Howell III.

Group 11

T1-Tommy Fleetwood (1-0-0), Kyle Stanley (1-0-0)
T3-Louis Oosthuizen (0-1-0), Byeong Hun An (0-1-0)

Group 12

T1-Henrik Stenson (1-0-0), Jim Furyk (1-0-0)
T3-Jason Day (0-1-0), Phil Mickelson (0-1-0)

The perennial underdog Jim Furyk edged out a 2-Up win Wednesday but it was anything but easy. The 48-year old battled back and forth with the two-time WGC Match Play champion Jason Day. After Day lead for much of the front nine Furyk came back over the closing four holes to secure victory and the coveted early two points.

Group 13

1-Tiger Woods (1-0-0)
T2-Patrick Cantlay (0-0-1), Brandt Snedeker (0-0-1)
4-Aaron Wise (0-1-0)

In his first WGC Match Play event since 2013, the three-time tournament winner Tiger Woods took the reigning PGA Rookie of the Year Aaron Wise to his limit during the opening round. Despite Woods’ 3&1 victory Wise had a strong showing of grit and determination. As Wise tried to gain momentum Woods put the pressure back on the 22-year old with putts like his 33-footer for par at the par-3 7th.

Group 14

T1-Tony Finau (1-0-0), Ian Poulter (1-0-0)
T3-Kevin Kisner (0-1-0), Keith Mitchell (0-1-0)

Regardless of the inevitable loss against Ian Poulter, Kevin Kisner threw his name into contention for shot of the day. With the pressure from Poulter mounting, Kisner stepped up and dunked his third shot at the par-5 16th for an emphatic eagle.

Group 15

1-Kevin Na (1-0-0)
T2-Jordan Spieth (0-0-1), Billy Horschel (0-0-1)
4-Bubba Watson (0-1-0)

After being down three holes early to Billy Horschel, Jordan Spieth powered back to halve the match between the two former FedEx Cup Champions. The Texas native employed his famed short game prowess to propel him back into contention including a picture perfect chip-in from the greenside bunker for birdie at the par-3 7th.

Group 16

T1-Sergio Garcia (1-0-0), Andrew Putnam (1-0-0)
T3-Patrick Reed (0-1-0), Shane Lowry (0-1-0)


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