No. 4 Gary Player bracket seed Jason Dufner falls two behind Scott Stallings midway through the front nine in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play, with Stallings’ lead hovering around that mark into the closing stretch. But Dufner makes a late comeback to pull even again before claiming a victory in extra holes.
We’ll keep you posted on the highlights of the Dufner vs. Stallings match right here – and scroll down for our preview coverage.
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First playoff hole: No. 1: Par 4, 460 yards
Stallings leaves himself a difficult par putt that falls low and runs past, giving Dufner a short roll for par and the win – which he sinks. It’s not the longest match of the day, but it’s a mighty comeback for the reigning PGA Championship victor.
“I stayed patient, I made a couple birdies,” Dufner tells Golf Channel.
DUFNER WINS, 1 UP
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Hole No. 18: Par 4, 480 yards
Dufner and Stallings both find the green here. Dufner doesn’t have a realistic birdie attempt and is left to settle for a two-putt par. Stallings is closer but also faces a difficult roll, and pars as well. This one will head back to the first tee for extra holes.
THRU 18 HOLES: All Square
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Hole No. 17: Par 4, 482 yards
This match hasn’t been on the radar much of the day as Stallings had an upset bid going steady, but Dufner has come on strong. He wins the 17th with a concession and they head to the last hole to restart the suddenly re-energized duel.
THRU 17 HOLES: All Square
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Hole No. 16: Par 3, 199 yards
Birdie time again for Dufner: The No. 4 seed’s second bird in three holes pulls him within one of Stallings with two holes to play. Graeme McDowell just pulled off an unlikely three-shot comeback up ahead; can Dufner follow suit?
THRU 16 HOLES: Stallings, 1 up
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Hole No. 15: Par 4, 343 yards
A pair of pars keep the lead the same, but the halve robs Dufner of time to make up ground. To his credit, Dufner has just one bogey during the last 10 holes – but his two birdies only earned halves.
THRU 15 HOLES: Stallings, 2 up
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Hole No. 14: Par 4, 449 yards
It’s not often that two holes in a row are halved with birdies, but that’s what happens at the 11th and 12th in this match. Another halve via pars at the 13th is followed by Dufner parring the 14th while Stallings bogeys to narrow the lead. Dufner is running out of holes for a comeback, but one of his trademark pin-attacking runs isn’t out of the question.
THRU 14 HOLES: Stallings, 2 up
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Hole No. 10: Par 4, 493 yards
Dufner bogeys again – his second of the day – digging himself a hole that is surmountable but certainly puts the pressure on for the remainder of the back nine. Does he have a third straight first-round exit in store?
THRU 10 HOLES: Stallings, 3 up
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Hole No. 5: Par 4, 536 yards
Par gives Stallings another hole won as Dufner bogeys to double his early deficit. The reigning PGA Championship victor already has bounced back once today, though.
THRU FIVE HOLES: Stallings, 2 up
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Hole No. 4: Par 4, 393 yards
After two pars at the third hole, another birdie for Stallings pushes him back out front again. This could get interesting.
THRU FOUR HOLES: Stallings, 1 up
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Hole No. 1: Par 4, 460 yards
A birdie gets Stallings ahead of the No. 4-seeded Dufner immediately – and it could be considered a much-needed head start given the two players’ disparate rankings and experience here.
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- OWGR Rank: 18
- Golfweek/Sagarin Rank: 25
- 2014 PGA Tour results: T-34, WGC-HSBC Champions; 5th, Hyundai TOC; T-29, Sony Open; T-65, Northern Trust Open
- Match Play results (since 2009): T-33 (2013); T-33 (2012)
- Comments: Not much of a sample size when it comes to Match Play, so he is a bit of an unproven commodity.
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- OWGR Rank: 53
- Golfweek/Sagarin Rank: 194
- 2014 PGA Tour results: MC, Shriners Hospitals for Children Open; T-47, CIMB Classic; MC, McGladrey Classic; MC, OHL Classic at Mayakoba; T-58, Humana Challenge; won, Farmers Insurance Open; MC, Waste Management Phoenix Open; T-45, Northern Trust Open
- Match Play results (since 2009): None
- Comments: Stallings’ victory at the Farmers Insurance Open landed him a spot in what will be his first Match Play.
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Match Play preview coverage
The Golf Club at Dove Mountain is certainly fun to watch from home. And with match play, just about anything can happen, especially on this dramatic, rugged Jack Nicklaus-designed course in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountain Range just north of Tucson, Ariz. See photos and a strategic description of all 18 holes.
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