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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

McIlroy and Johnson in trouble after opening day of shocks

Justin Thomas assumes favouritism

Phil Mickelson should bounce back from his Wednesday defeat
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 2.30pm Thursday

Story so far
There were shocks galore on day one of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, with 8-1 favourite Rory McIlroy the biggest casualty at Austin Country Club, Texas.

McIlroy was beaten 2&1 by Peter Uihlein, meaning the Northern Irishman has a difficult task to progress to the knockout stages. Any player who loses a group game needs a lot of luck to end up topping their four-man section.

McIlroy has drifted to 25-1, while defending champion Dustin Johnson is out from 10-1 to 25-1 after losing 3&1 to Bernd Wiesberger. Tommy Fleetwood and Phil Mickelson also lost, while Jon Rahm had to come from behind to scrape a draw with Keegan Bradley.

Justin Thomas, who saw off Luke List, was the biggest name to triumph, and the world number two has taken over at the head of the outright betting. Thomas is 8-1 with everyone apart from BoyleSports, who are offering a stand-out 9-1.

Day-one results
P Perez halved with S W Kim
G Woodland halved with W Simpson

J Thomas beat L List 2 up
F Molinari beat P Kizzire 3&1

T Hatton beat A Levy 3&2
B Steele beat C Hoffman 1 up

H Matsuyama beat Y Miyazato 2&1
C Smith beat P Cantlay 2 up

A Noren beat K Na 4&2
T Finau beat T Pieters 2&1

J Spieth beat C Schwartzel 2&1
P Reed beat H Li 3&2

I Poulter beat T Fleetwood 3&2
K Chappell beat D Berger 3&2

J Day beat J Hahn 4&2
L Oosthuizen beat J Dufner 1 up

M Kuchar halved with Z Johnson
Y Ikeda beat R Fisher 2&1

B Wiesberger beat D Johnson 3&1
K Kisner drew with A Hadwin

J Suri beat M Leishman 3&2
B Watson beat B Grace 5&3

P Uihlein beat R McIlroy 2&1
B Harman halved with J Vegas

C Howell beat P Mickelson 3&2
R Cabrera-Bello beat S Kodaira 2&1

J Rahm halved with K Bradley
K Aphibarnrat beat C Reavie 3&2

P Casey beat R Henley 1 up
K Stanley beat M Fitzpatrick 1 up

S Garcia beat S Sharma 1 up
X Schauffele beat D Frittelli 1 up

Day-two fixtures
2.30pm (UK and Ireland time): A Noren v T Pieters
2.41: T Finau v K Na

2.52: J Spieth v H Li
3.03: P Reed v C Schwartzel

3.14: T Fleetwood v K Chappell
3.25: D Berger v I Poulter

3.36: J Day v J Dufner
3.47: L Oosthuizen v J Hahn

3.58: M Kuchar v Y Ikeda
4.09: R Fisher v Z Johnson

4.20: D Johnson v A Hadwin
4.31: K Kisner v B Wiesberger

4.42: M Leishman v B Watson
4.53: B Grace v J Suri

5.04: R McIlroy v J Vegas
5.15: B Harman v P Uihlein

5.26: P Mickelson v S Kodaira
5.37: R Cabrera-Bello v C Howell

5.48: J Rahm v C Reavie
5.59: K Aphibarnrat v K Bradley

6.10: P Casey v K Stanley
6.21: M Fitzpatrick v R Henley

6.32: S Garcia v D Frittelli
6.43: X Schauffele v S Sharma

6.54: P Perez v W Simpson
7.05: G Woodland v S W Kim

7.16: J Thomas v P Kizzire
7.27: F Molinari v L List

7.38: T Hatton v B Steele
7.49: C Hoffman v A Levy

8pm: H Matsuyama v C Smith
8.11: P Cantlay v Y Miyazato

Best outright prices
9 J Thomas, J Day, 12 J Spieth, 14 P Casey, 16 J Rahm, 20 P Reed, B Watson, S Garcia, 25 R McIlroy, D Johnson, 28 bar

Today's advice
In-running outright punters should concentrate on players who were not beaten on day one. A halved match is no problem – your destiny remains in your own hands – but defeats are tough to recover from.

Justin Thomas was handed an easy group this week and has taken advantage by getting an early point on the board. Thomas looks likely to progress, but his record on this course and in Texas generally is nothing to write home about.

Jon Rahm, who fought back from two down with three to play to sneak a half from Keegan Bradley, looks the best outright value at 16-1. Rahm, runner-up last year, probably got complacent against Bradley when three up through five holes, but full focus seems assured from the Spaniard now he has averted disaster.

Bubba Watson is also worth considering at 20-1 after a barnstorming Wednesday effort. Watson destroyed Branden Grace with some magnificent golf and the left-hander is clearly full of beans in the wake of his Riviera victory.

Day-two matches punters are pointed towards two good pals – Rahm and Phil Mickelson can secure their first victories of the week, comprising a solid double.

Rahm seems likely to overpower and overwhelm Chez Reavie in the 5.48pm contest, while WGC-Mexico Championship victor Mickelson can bounce back from his day-one loss to Charles Howell by seeing off nervous Japanese raider Satoshi Kodaira (5.26pm).

Kodaira crumbled over the closing holes to gift Rafael Cabrera-Bello a day-one point, and merciless Mickelson can use his wealth of matchplay experience to make resurrect his hopes of group progression.

P Mickelson (8-15) & J Rahm (8-15)
3pts double Sky Bet

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Thomas looks likely to progress, but his record on this course and in Texas generally is nothing to write home about
E.W. Terms
Sky bet