WGC-Dell Match Play 2018: Jordan Spieth Eliminated, Bubba Watson Advances

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 23: Bubba Watson of the United States plays his shot from the second tee during the third round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 23, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Darren Carroll/Getty Images

With spots in the knockout round up for grabs, action at the WGC-Dell Match Play 2018 heated up on Friday.

The field was whittled from 64 all the way down to 16 as golfers battled to stay alive in the tournament for a chance to play in a single-elimination round on Saturday. And with the stakes high, there was little room for error. 

Here’s a recap of Friday’s play and how the tournament stands entering the weekend:

2018 WGC-Dell Match Play Championships Results – March 23

Group 1 

No. 32 Kevin Kisner def. No. 1 Dustin Johnson (4 and 3)

No. 38 Adam Hadwin vs. No. 52 Bernd Wiesberger (Halved)

Group 2

No. 2 Justin Thomas def. No. 21 Francesco Molinari (7 and 5) 

No. 48 Patton Kizzire def. No. 60 Luke List (4 and 2)

Group 3

No. 28 Kiradech Aphibarnrat def. No. 3 Jon Rahm (4 and 3)

No. 43 Chez Reavie vs. No. 63 Keegan Bradley (Halved)

Group 4

No. 19 Patrick Reed def. No. 4 Jordan Spieth (2 and 1)

No. 49 Charl Schwartzel def. No. 34 HaoTong Li (3 and 2)

Group 5

No. 30 Patrick Cantlay def. No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama (4 and 3)

No. 46 Cameron Smith vs. No. 53 Yusaku Miyazato (Halved)

 

Group 6

No. 57 Peter Uihlein def. No. 44 Jhonattan Vegas (4 and 3)

No. 18 Brian Harman def. No. 6 Rory McIlroy (5 and 3)

Group 7

No. 7 Sergio Garcia def. No. 20 Xander Schauffele (3 and 1)

No. 41 Dylan Frittelli def. No. 62 Shubhankar Sharma (1 up)

Group 8

No. 25 Louis Oosthuizen def. No. 8 Jason Day (2 up)

No. 42 Jason Dufner def. No. 56 James Hahn (3 and 2)

Playoff: No. 25 Louis Oosthuizen def. No. 42 Jason Dufner 

Group 9

No. 9 Tommy Fleetwood def. No. 26 Daniel Berger (2 and 1)

No. 58 Ian Poulter def. No. 33 Kevin Chappell (Conceded)

Group 10

No. 31 Matthew Fitzpatrick def. No. 10 Paul Casey (3 and 2)

No. 45 Kyle Stanley def. No. 51 Russell Henley (1 up)

Playoff: No. 45 Kyle Stanley def. No. 10 Paul Casey

Group 11

No. 35 Bubba Watson vs. No. 64 Julian Suri (Halved)

No. 11 Marc Leishman vs. No. 23 Branden Grace (Halved)

Group 12

No. 22 Charley Hoffman def. No. 12 Tyrrell Hatton (3 and 2)

No. 36 Brendan Steele def. No. 55 Alexander Levy (3 and 1)

Playoff: No. 12 Tyrrell Hatton def. No. 36 Brendan Steele

Group 13

No. 13 Alex Noren def. No. 29 Tony Finau (1 up)

No. 39 Thomas Pieters vs. No. 61 Kevin Na (Halved)

Group 14

No. 14 Phil Mickelson def. No. 17 Rafa Cabrera Bello (1 up)

No. 59 Charles Howell III def. No. 40 Satoshi Kodaira (2 and 1)

Group 15

No. 24 Gary Woodland def. No. 15 Pat Perez (1 up)

No. 50 Si Woo Kim def. No. 37 Webb Simpson (2 up)

Group 16

No. 16 Matt Kuchar def. No. 27 Ross Fisher (6 and 4)

No. 47 Yuta Ikeda vs. No. 54 Zach Johnson (Halved)

Full results can be viewed at PGATour.com

Recap

It was a star-studded day at Austin Country Club, but not every star managed a successful third round.

The likes of Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia advanced to the Round of 16, but Jordan Spieth was not as fortunate.

Patrick Reed proved to be too much for Spieth, as the San Antonio native was on top of his game:

Reed improved to 3-0-0 for the tournament, but Spieth (2-1-0) dropped his first match. That loss just happened to cost him a spot in the knockout round.

“The worst thing [about beating Spieth in Texas] is I love playing against Jordan,” Reed said, per ESPN.com. “I wish that was more of a semifinals and finals match”

Defending champion Dustin Johnson was eliminated on Thursday after dropping each of his first two matches, and Friday wasn’t any better. He finished the tournament 0-3-0 after Kevin Kisner handled him in the third round. Even though he had a disappointing result, Johnson did manage an impressive drive:

Perhaps the highlight of the day came from Matt Kuchar:

His hole-in-one on No. 7 helped him defeat Ross Fisher, so he will keep playing into the weekend.

As Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel noted, many of the top-seeded players had early exits:

But even those players who did move on were not necessarily satisfied with their play:

Survive and advance is the name of the game. Fortunately for Tyrrell Hatton, he will have a chance to bounce back from a match that didn’t meet his expectations.

The round-robin matches provided plenty of intrigue, but the drama is just getting started. The knockout round is up next, so it’s win-or-go-home time in Texas.

Knockout Round (Round of 16)

No. 35 Bubba Watson vs. No. 18 Brian Harman

No. 59 Charles Howell III vs. No. 28 Kiradech Aphibarnrat

No. 45 Kyle Stanley vs. No. 7 Sergio Garcia

No. 50 Si Woo Kim vs. No. 2 Justin Thomas

No. 12 Tyrrell Hatton vs. No. 46 Cameron Smith

No. 13 Alex Noren vs. No. 19 Patrick Reed

No. 58 Ian Poulter vs. No. 25 Louis Oosthuizen 

No. 16 Matt Kuchar vs. No. 32 Kevin Kisner