Dufner def. Stallings in 19 holes at WGC Match Play
PHOTOS: WGC Match Play 2014
Check out photos from the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
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.
• • •
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
• • •
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
• • •
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
• • •
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
• • •
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
• • •
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
• • •
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
• • •
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
PHOTOS: WGC-Accenture Match Play, Tuesday practice
See the action -- and interactions -- of Tuesday practice for the PGA Tour's 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play as well as some desert scenery at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
• • •
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
• • •
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.
• • •
- 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.
• • •
- 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.
• • •
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.
Henrik Stenson will enter this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship as the top seed, a year after his won the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai. Meanwhile, last year's champ Matt Kuchar is coming off his first missed cut in nearly 18 months as 61 of the top 67 players in the world will play at Dove Mountain. Here's a look at each player in the field.
Bubba Golf is back in vogue. Bomb it, find it, wedge it, putt it. That has worked so well lately that Bubba Watson finds himself high on the current Hot Golfer List, having won (Northern Trust Open on Sunday) and finished second (Waste Management Phoenix Open) in his last two PGA Tour starts. Hence, Watson comes to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship as a scary draw, if there is such a thing in the unpredictable culture of 18-hole match play.
The field is stacked and this is truly the "anything-can-happen" tournament of the year, as match play seems to even the playing field in golf. With Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott taking the WGC-Accenture Match Play off, a bit of intrigue might be lost, but the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter should provide some drama worth watching.
Rory McIlroy tops the list of odds to win this week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, with Dustin Johnson and Jason Day not far behind. McIlroy is listed at 12/1 to win the tournament, with Johnson and Day at 15/1.
Ian Poulter will have a little bit of experience on his side Wednesday, with another early-morning tee time in the this World Golf Championship. Although afternoon temperatures are predicted to be in the 80s, the early-morning groups will probably start out in sub-50 weather, so if there is cold anywhere, Poulter's match against Rickie Fowler will have it. And it’s an intriguing match right out of the gates, as Poulter clearly has a fondness for this championship.