Thursday, May 6, 2021

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Wednesday matches to watch, recaps: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

The World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play is back. Wednesday’s opening round is the first of three days of pool play. After Friday, the player with the best record in each of the 16 four-man pools will advance to knockout play. Two rounds apiece will be played Saturday and Sunday to crown a champion.

Tee times were moved up two hours in anticipation of inclement weather, which could another layer to one of the year’s most intriguing weeks. This is the only event where players go mano-a-mano, and Austin Country Club is a perfect site for this format thanks to its offering of risk-reward holes.

Can reigning FedExCup champion Dustin Johnson win again in Austin? Can Justin Thomas go back-to-back after his PLAYERS victory? Will Collin Morikawa win a second straight World Golf Championship?

Those are among the storylines we’ll be tracking this week.

There will be 32 matches in each of the next three days, and this file will be updated live at the conclusion of each match to keep you apprised of the action from the TOUR’s only match-play event. Return here often to learn about the latest upsets, comebacks and nail-biting finishes.

Until matches conclude, here’s a sampling of some of the showdowns we’re especially excited to see today:

– Rory McIlroy vs. Ian Poulter: What a way to start the day, with a showdown of these two past champions. McIlroy reportedly has a new swing coach, while Poulter can never be counted out in match play. McIlroy, his former Ryder Cup teammate, knows that first-hand.

– Patrick Reed vs. Bubba Watson: Watson is a past winner at Austin Country Club, while Reed has made it to the Round of 16 twice in Austin. Between Bubba’s big, bending tee shots and Reed’s stellar short game, this is a match for those who like to watch an old-school brand of golf.

– Matt Fitzpatrick vs. Jordan Spieth: These guys are the exception in today’s power game but they’re both in good form. Fitzpatrick has finished no worse than 11th in his last four starts, while Spieth has three top-5s in his last five starts.

– Justin Thomas vs. Matt Kuchar: Thomas arrives on the heels of his PLAYERS win but Kuchar can’t be counted out in match play. He won the U.S. Amateur in 1997 and claimed this event in 2013. No one has made it to the Round of 16 in Austin more often than Kuchar. He’s one of two players to advance out of pool play three times in the four tournaments at Austin CC (Louis Oosthuizen is the other). Kuchar was runner-up the last time this event was played, in 2019.

– Lee Westwood vs. Sergio Garcia: This match features two resurgent 40-somethings who have been stalwarts on Europe’s Ryder Cup teams. Westwood recently had consecutive runners-up at THE PLAYERS and Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, while Garcia’s win at the Sanderson Farms Championship was his first in 3 ½ years and he recently finished ninth at THE PLAYERS.

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