With day three of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in the books, the match-ups for the knockout rounds are officially set. Only five of the top 16 seeds advanced out of group play. And although the weekend will be without many of the big-name stars – Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy – the weekend should have lots of quality golf.
Here are some of the marquee match-ups for the round of 16.
No. 1 Dustin Johnson vs. No. 44 Zach Johnson
This match-up of former major winners will be interesting as the two play such contrasting styles. Dustin Johnson, with his phenomenal power, is always a threat to overpower a golf course. But Zach Johnson can use his methodical precision to dissect Austin Country Club and leave himself with the best angle to attack some tricky pins.
Although Dustin is hot this week – he has not trailed during any of his three matches – look for Zach to give the No. 1 player in the world a run for his money. Zach made it through a tough draw in Group 16 after he defeated Brendan Steele 1-up on Friday.
“Yeah, I’ll have a tough match tomorrow,” Dustin said. “But hopefully we can get a victory.”
Their match tees off at 8:47 a.m. and should draw one of the largest crowds of the day.
No. 20 Brooks Koepka vs. No. 8 Alex Noren
These two golfers have been just about perfect this week – at least in the win and loss column. Brooks Koepka, the up-and-coming American, breezed his way through Group 9 with a 3-0 record. Koepka has yet to trail in any match this week after dismantling Kevin Kisner and Jason Dufner 6 and 5, and squeaking out a 1-up victory over Patrick Reed.
“It’s fun, you just do your thing, and playing well,” Koepka said. “Just need to keep — keep doing what I’m doing.”
Alex Noren’s play this week has been equally impressive as the Swede advanced through Group 8. Noren has also yet to trail at any point this week. He was the first player in the field to claim a spot in the knockout round on Thursday as the beneficiary of a WD from Francesco Molinari. With players playing as many as 36 holes a day during the weekend, look for that extra day of rest to be a factor.
This match-up will tee off at 8:36 a.m.
No. 14 Phil Mickelson vs. No. 28 Marc Leishman
This could very well be the most entertaining match of the early morning tee times on Saturday. Phil Mickelson, who is winless on the PGA Tour since his 2013 Open Championship triumph, has been nothing short of spectacular this week in Austin.
Mickelson has never been the strongest match-play competitor, but from his play this week you would never know it. He has yet to have a match reach the 16th hole – he only needed 42 holes to advance this week.
“I’m nervous that I haven’t been in a match that has gone the last hole or two and feel that clutch pressure,” Mikelson said. “But also the good is that I have been able to conserve energy heading into this weekend.”
Marc Leishman had a more unconventional route advancing to the knockout stage. He went 1-1 in his first two matches before getting a win on Friday via concession after Jason Day’s unexpected WD. He squeaked into a three-way playoff with Lee Westwood and Pat Perez, and emerged victorious after birdieing the second hole. But after his win last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his game is obviously sharp and he is a definite threat to make it two wins in a row.
This match is set to get underway at 7:41 a.m.
With tee times set to begin bright and early on Saturday – Bill Haas and Kevin Na will get underway at 7:41 a.m. – and continuing throughout the day, look for another action-packed day out at Austin Country Club.