Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry eliminated at Match Play
McIlroy was earlier handed walkover against Gary Woodland
Ireland’s Shane Lowry tees off on the 14th hole during his match against Spain’s John Rahm at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at the Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
World number one Dustin Johnson continued his perfect record at the WGC-Dell Match Play on Thursday while number two Rory McIlroy was eliminated without even setting foot on the course.
On an extremely windy afternoon in Austin, American Johnson beat German Martin Kaymer 3&2 at Austin Country Club.
“Putting is the hardest part,” Johnson told Golf Channel after improving to 2-0-0 overall. “It’s very breezy and then really gusty at times.”
McIlroy, after losing to Dane Soren Kjeldsen on Wednesday, won on Thursday when his scheduled opponent Gary Woodland withdrew, citing personal family reasons.
Even with that walkover, however, McIlroy still needed Kjeldsen to lose his second match to have any chance of advancing out of the round-robin group stage.
But Kjeldsen duly shut the door on the Northern Irishman, beating Argentine Emiliano Grillo 4&3 to improve to 2-0-0.
Kjeldsen said he relished the tough conditions.
“I’m brought up in this,” said Kjeldsen, who won the Irish Open at Royal County Down in 2015. “The way I play golf, I like to shape shots, like to change the trajectory. When I saw it being windy today I was really happy.”
He will have the luxury of not even needing to turn up at the course on Friday, due to the absence of his scheduled opponent Woodland.
Shane Lowry also bowed out with one round of group games to go after losing 2&1 to young Spanish star John Rahm, who will now take on Sergio Garcia in an intriguing winner takes all game on Friday.
Two-time Major winner Jordan Spieth had also been in danger of an early exit after losing his opening match, but the Texas native kept his hopes alive with a 4&2 win over Yuta Ikeda.
Lee Westwood was handed a win following Jason Day’s withdrawal and can force a playoff in group three by beating Pat Perez on Friday, while Kevin Na needs just half a point against Chris Wood after beating Justin Thomas in group six.
World number four Hideki Matsuyama was also mathematically eliminated from the round-of-16, losing to Englishman Ross Fisher 2&1 a day after halving his opening match.
US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk won the other match in Matsuyama’s group, 3&2 over South African Louis Oosthuizen.
Others winners among the early matches in the 64-man event to improve to 2-0-0 included Americans Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Brooks Koepka, Pat Perez and William McGirt, Swede Alexander Noren, Englishman Tyrrell Hatton and South Korean KT Kim.
The wind caused all sorts of problems and a watery grave for many a ball, even a shank by American Charles Howell, who had no problem assigning the blame to the conditions.
“[It was] difficult enough to cause a shank,” he said after escaping with a 1-up win over Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
“I was a bit numb playing the last hole after that but fortunately got a nice up-and-down at the last to save it a little bit.”
RESULTS (USA unless stated)
Bubba Watson bt Scott Piercy 4&3
Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) bt Thomas Pieters (Bel) 3&1
Ross Fisher (Eng) bt Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 2&1
Jim Furyk bt Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 3&2
Kevin Kisner bt Patrick Reed 1 up
Lee Westwood (Eng) bt Jason Day (Nzl) WD
Pat Perez bt Marc Leishman (Aus) 2&1
Rory McIlroy (NI) bt Gary Woodland WD
Brooks Koepka bt Jason Dufner 6&5
Alex Noren (Swe) bt Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 3&2
Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) bt Francesco Molinari (Ita) 5&3
Zach Johnson bt Matt Kuchar 2 up
Brendan Steele bt Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 1 up
Dustin Johnson bt Martin Kaymer (Ger) 3&2
Jimmy Walker bt Webb Simpson 3&2
Bill Haas bt Danny Willett (Eng) 6&5
KT Kim (Kor) bt Russell Knox 3&1
Kevin Na bt Justin Thomas 4&2
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) bt Chris Wood (Eng) 4&2
Phil Mickelson bt Daniel Berger 5&4
JB Holmes tied with Si Woo Kim (S Kor)
Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) bt Jeunghun Wang (S Kor) 2up
Charles Howell III (USA) bt Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 1up
Sergio Garcia (Esp) bt Kevin Chappell 4&3
Jon Rahm (Esp) bt Shane Lowry (Irl) 2&1
William McGirt bt Branden Grace (Rsa) 2&1
Brandt Snedeker bt Andy Sullivan (Eng) 2&1
Soren Kjeldsen (Den) bt Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 4&3
Paul Casey (Eng) bt Byeong-Hun An (S Kor) 1up
Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) bt Joost Luiten (Ned) 4&3
Jordan Spieth (USA) bt Yuta Ikeda (Jpn) 4&2
Ryan Moore (USA) tied with Hideto Tanihara (Jpn)