Emotional Day withdraws as big names suffer in opening matches
McIlroy and Spieth have much work to do
Story so far
There were shocks galore on the first day of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and some of the biggest names in the field are in danger of group-stage elimination.
Rory McIlroy made six birdies in his match against Soren Kjeldsen, but that was not enough to avoid a 2&1 defeat to the inspired Dane. Kjeldsen and Gary Woodland are above McIlroy in Group Two, meaning the Northern Irishman must win his final two matches and hope other results go his way. The pre-tournament 15-2 favourite has been eased to 18-1.
An even greater shock came later in the day as Jordan Spieth was beaten 4&2 by Hideto Tanihara. Spieth, a local hero with a vast bank of experience at the Austin Country Club venue, made only one birdie in a terrible performance. The Japanese raider could not believe his luck.
Jason Day withdrew from the event after six holes of his match against Pat Perez. Day was three down and later explained he was unable to concentrate on golf with his mother having surgery for lung cancer on Friday.
Bet365, Betway, BoyleSports, Coral, Hills, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power refunded stakes on Day as a goodwill gesture.
World number one Dustin Johnson had no problems in his opener. A buzzing Johnson swatted aside Webb Simpson 5&3, shortening from 10-1 to 5-1 in the outright betting.
Day-one results (in draw order)
Group 15: B Grace beat A Sullivan 4&2
Group 15: W McGirt beat B Snedeker 2 up
Group 2: S Kjeldsen beat R McIlroy 2&1
Group 2: G Woodland beat E Grillo 3&2
Group 12: P Casey beat J Luiten 2&1
Group 12: C Schwartzel beat B H An 6&5
Group 5: H Tanihara beat J Spieth 4&2
Group 5: R Moore and Y Ikeda halved match
Group 13: B Watson beat J Vegas 1 up
Group 13: T Pieters beat S Piercy 3&2
Group 4: H Matsuyama and J Furyk halved match
Group 4: L Oosthuizen beat R Fisher 4&3
Group 9: P Reed and J Dufner halved match
Group 9: B Koepka beat K Kisner 6&5
Group 8: A Noren beat T Jaidee 3&2
Group 8: B Wiesberger beat F Molinari 2 up
Group 16: M Kuchar and B Steele halved match
Group 16: T Fleetwood beat Z Johnson 1 up
Group 1: D Johnson beat W Simpson 5&3
Group 1: M Kaymer beat J Walker 3&2
Group 11: K-T Kim beat D Willett 4&2
Group 11: R Knox beat B Haas 3&2
Group 6: J Thomas beat C Wood 2&1
Group 6: K Na beat M Fitzpatrick 5&4
Group 14: P Mickelson beat S W Kim 5&3
Group 14: D Berger beat JB Holmes 7&5
Group 3: P Perez beat J Day (wd)
Group 3: M Leishman beat L Westwood 3&2
Group 10: T Hatton beat C Howell 2&1
Group 10: R Cabrera-Bello beat J Wang 4&3
Group 7: S Garcia and S Lowry halved match
Group 7: J Rahm beat K Chappell 3&2
Group 13: B Watson v S Piercy
Group 13: T Pieters v J Vegas
Group 4: H Matsuyama v R Fisher
Group 4: L Oosthuizen v J Furyk
Group 9: P Reed v K Kisner
Group 9: B Koepka v J Dufner
Group 8: A Noren v B Wiesberger
Group 8: F Molinari v T Jaidee
Group 16: M Kuchar v Z Johnson
Group 16: T Fleetwood v B Steele
Group 1: D Johnson v M Kaymer
Group 1: J Walker v W Simpson
Group 11: D Willett v B Haas
Group 11: R Knox v K-T Kim
Group 6: J Thomas v K Na
Group 6: M Fitzpatrick v C Wood
Group 14: P Mickelson v D Berger
Group 14: JB Holmes v S W Kim
Group 3: L Westwood beats J Day (wd)
Group 3: M Leishman v P Perez
Group 10: T Hatton v J Wang
Group 10: R Cabrera-Bello v C Howell
Group 7: S Garcia v K Chappell
Group 7: J Rahm v S Lowry
Group 15: B Grace v W McGirt
Group 15: B Snedeker v A Sullivan
Group 2: R McIlroy v G Woodland
Group 2: E Grillo v S Kjeldsen
Group 12: P Casey v B H An
Group 12: C Schwartzel v J Luiten
Group 5: J Spieth v Y Ikeda
Group 5: R Moore v H Tanihara
Best outright prices
5 D Johnson, 18 R McIlroy, J Rahm, P Casey, 22 T Pieters, J Spieth, 25 L Oosthuizen, J Thomas, T Hatton, 28 H Matsuyama, R Cabrera-Bello, 30 P Mickelson, 33 B Grace, T Fleetwood, 35 M Leishman, G Woodland, 40 B Koepka, P Reed, A Noren, C Schwartzel, 45 M Kaymer, 50 bar
Punters with an outright bet on a player who lost yesterday should not give up. The group format gives Thursday losers a chance of recovery. Three players progressed to the knockout stages last year despite losing a group match.
That said, having a point on the board is obviously preferable, and Dustin Johnson has quickly stamped his authority on the tournament. Thomas Pieters also got off to a flyer and the Ryder Cup colossus looks like potential title contender at 22-1.
Charl Schwartzel and Ryan Moore are the most appealing wagers for the day-two matches. Schwartzel did not need fireworks to see off Byeong Hun An 6&5 – An was seven over par for 13 holes – but the South African has played some excellent golf in March and will be confident of dealing with Joost Luiten in the 7.49pm (UK and Ireland time) match today.
Schwartzel, who has represented The Internationals in the Presidents Cup three times, has much more experience of matchplay combat than Luiten. And Schwartzel is a more comfortable Stateside performer, too. The former Masters champion is a US Tour regular, while Luiten, over par in defeat to Paul Casey yesterday, resides mainly on the European circuit.
Moore and Jordan Spieth will be fuming with themselves for failing to beat Japanese duo Yuta Ikeda and Hideto Tanihara yesterday. The nervous Japanese raiders did not produce anything special, but the Americans were way off their normal level.
At least Moore scrambled a half, and much better can be expected from the Ryder Cup star against Tanihara today. Moore knows victory over Tanihara and a half against Spieth on Friday would give him a great chance of progression. A more focused and more ruthless performance is likely from Moore against Tanihara in the 8.11pm match.
3pts 10-11 Betfred
3pts 4-5 bet365