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Imperious Johnson triumphs again as McIlroy is sent packing

Spieth fighting for place in last 16

Dustin Johnson is 7-2 tournament favourite
1 of 1

Story so far

Another dramatic day at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play saw two more players withdraw from the tournament, impacting on the groups and leaving Rory McIlroy packing his bags.

Gary Woodland withdrew from Group Two, meaning he has conceded his match against Soren Kjeldsen today. That leaves Kjeldsen, who already has two wins under his belt, with a perfect 3-0 record and an unassailable position in McIlroy's group.

Woodland withdrew for “personal reasons”. Jason Day withdrew on Wednesday because his mother has lung cancer, then Francesco Molinari blamed a wrist injury for his decision to quit after two defeats.

Dustin Johnson is clear tournament favourite, having been 10-1 ante-post. Johnson has made short work of Webb Simpson and Martin Kaymer in his opening two matches and the world number one must avoid defeat today against Jimmy Walker to progress to the knockout stages. If Walker wins, a playoff for the last-16 berth will ensue.

Johnson is no bigger than 7-2 for Austin Country Club glory, with Jon Rahm and Paul Casey next in the betting at 14-1. McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama are the biggest names to feel the axe, while the only two players certain of last-16 action at the moment are Kjeldsen and Alexander Noren.

Group standings

Group One (Won, Lost, Halved, Points)
D Johnson 2 0 0 2
M Kaymer 1 1 0 1
J Walker 1 1 0 1
W Simpson 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group Two
S Kjeldsen 3 0 0 3 Qualified
R McIlroy 1 1 0 1 Eliminated
G Woodland 1 2 0 1 Eliminated
E Grillo 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group Three
P Perez 2 0 0 2
M Leishman 2 1 0 2
L Westwood 1 1 0 1
J Day 0 3 0 0 Eliminated

Group Four
J Furyk 1 0 1 1.5
L Oosthuizen 1 1 0 1
R Fisher 1 1 0 1
H Matsuyama 0 1 1 0.5 Eliminated

Group Five
H Tanihara 1 0 1 1.5
J Spieth 1 1 0 1
R Moore 0 0 2 1
Y Ikeda 0 1 1 0.5

Group Six
K Na 2 0 0 2
J Thomas 1 1 0 1
M Fitzpatrick 1 1 0 1
C Wood 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group Seven
J Rahm 2 0 0 2
S Garcia 1 0 1 1.5
S Lowry 0 2 1 0.5 Eliminated
K Chappell 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group Eight
A Noren 3 0 0 3 Qualified
B Wiesberger 1 1 0 1 Eliminated
T Jaidee 1 1 0 1 Eliminated
F Molinari 0 3 0 0 Eliminated

Group Nine
B Koepka 2 0 0 2
K Kisner 1 1 0 1
P Reed 0 1 1 0.5 Eliminated
J Dufner 0 1 1 0.5 Eliminated

Group Ten
T Hatton 2 0 0 2
R Cabrera-Bello 1 1 0 1
C Howell 1 1 0 1
J Wang 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group 11
K-T Kim 2 0 0 2
R Knox 1 1 0 1
B Haas 1 1 0 1
D Willett 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group 12
C Schwartzel 2 0 0 2
P Casey 2 0 0 2
B An 0 2 0 0 Eliminated
J Luiten 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group 13
B Watson 2 0 0 2
T Pieters 1 1 0 1
J Vegas 1 1 0 1
S Piercy 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group 14
P Mickelson 2 0 0 2
D Berger 1 1 0 1
JB Holmes 0 1 1 0.5 Eliminated
S W Kim 0 1 1 0.5 Eliminated

Group 15
W McGirt 2 0 0 2
B Grace 1 1 0 1
B Snedeker 1 1 0 1
A Sullivan 0 2 0 0 Eliminated

Group 16
B Steele 1 0 1 1.5
T Fleetwood 1 1 0 1
Z Johnson 1 1 0 1
M Kuchar 0 1 1 0.5 Eliminated

NB: Jason Day, Gary Woodland and Francesco Molinari have withdrawn, conceding their Friday matches

Last-16 draw

D Johnson, J Walker or M Kaymer v B Steele, T Fleetwood or Z Johnson

A Noren v B Koepka or K Kisner

J Furyk, L Oosthuizen or R Fisher v B Watson, T Pieters or J Vegas

H Tanihara, J Spieth, R Moore or Y Ikeda v C Schwartzel or P Casey

S Kjeldsen v W McGirt, B Grace or B Snedeker

J Rahm or S Garcia v T Hatton, R Cabrera-Bello or C Howell

P Perez, M Leishman or L Westwood v P Mickelson or D Berger

K Na, J Thomas or M Fitzpatrick v K-T Kim, R Knox or B Haas

Day-three fixtures

Group 11: D Willett v R Knox
Group 11: B Haas v K-T Kim
Group Six: J Thomas v M Fitzpatrick
Group Six: K Na v C Wood
Group 14: P Mickelson v JB Holmes
Group 14: D Berger v S W Kim
Group Three: L Westwood v P Perez
Group Ten: T Hatton v R Cabrera-Bello
Group Ten: J Wang v C Howell
Group Seven: S Garcia v J Rahm
Group Seven: K Chappell v S Lowry
Group 15: B Grace v B Snedeker
Group 15: W McGirt v A Sullivan
Group Two: R McIlroy v E Grillo
Group 12: P Casey v C Schwartzel
Group 12: B H An v J Luiten
Group Five: J Spieth v R Moore
Group Five: Y Ikeda v H Tanihara
Group 13: B Watson v T Pieters
Group 13: S Piercy v J Vegas
Group Four: H Matsuyama v L Oosthuizen
Group Four: R Fisher v J Furyk
Group Nine: B Koepka v P Reed
Group Nine: K Kisner v J Dufner
Group Eight: B Wiesberger v T Jaidee
Group 16 M Kuchar v T Fleetwood
Group 16: Z Johnson v B Steele
Group One: D Johnson v J Walker
Group One: M Kaymer v W Simpson

Best outright prices

7-2 D Johnson, 14 J Rahm, P Casey, 16 P Mickelson, A Noren, 18 T Hatton, 20 B Koepka, 22 J Spieth, S Garcia, 25 S Kjeldsen, B Watson, C Schwartzel, 33 K Na, 40 bar

Day-three advice

Dustin Johnson has moved from 10-1 to 5-1 to 7-2 over the first two days and will be shaven further if he successfully negotiates his way past Jimmy Walker today.

It is a fascinating contest because the pair dislike each other and they had a heated exchange on the driving range at this tournament a year ago. The tensions should help Johnson keep his focus after a serene first two matches. Johnson needs only a half to progress, but is likely to attack with all guns blazing in the early stages.

Johnson is oozing control and rightly dominating the outright market with the elimination of Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama. Jordan Spieth is in great danger of falling at the group stage, too.

Punters looking for bigger prices, though, should consider Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia. It is bemusing as to why Schwartzel is 25-1 for the title and Paul Casey is only 14-1. The pair face off today in what looks like a 50-50 contest for Group 12 honours. Schwartzel has cruised to victory in his first two matches.

Garcia has been enjoying himself on a course he knows. His bride-to-be is from Austin, so he has spent plenty of practice time at the venue. Like with Group 12, a head-to-head battle for progression will take place in Group Seven. Garcia can use his matchplay experience and course-comfort to see off his young compatriot Jon Rahm. The 22-1 Garcia is generous, particularly with McIlroy out of that section of the draw.

Day-three match punters are pointed towards Russell Knox and Daniel Berger. Knox faces Danny Willett knowing that victory will give him a chance of progression from Group 11. Willett, who has been in miserable form for months and abysmal this week, is already out of the competition. The steady Scot should be more focused, more accurate and grind his way to a point.

Berger is also up against a player who is already eliminated – Si Woo Kim. Berger still has hope of progression if he can beat Kim and that seems likely given the way the Korean has performed this year. Kim has been struggling for fitness and has missed six of his last seven cuts.

Recommendations
R Knox
3pts 10-11 Ladbrokes

D Berger
3pts 4-6 bet365, Betway

Garcia can use his matchplay experience and course-comfort to see off his young compatriot Jon Rahm
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