While several big names have been eliminated from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, some are moving on.
Round-robin play at Austin Country Club finished up Friday, with the winner of each of the 16 groups being decided and the Round of 16 set for Saturday.
Just two of the top 10 seeds move on to single-elimination play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, with Justin Thomas (No. 2) and Sergio Garcia (No. 7) the survivors.
Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 seed and the defending champion, was already eliminated heading into Friday (where he finished off an 0-3 week). Third-seeded Jon Rahm went 0-2-1 in pool play to pack his bags a year after making the final. Jordan Spieth, the No. 4 seed, also saw his tournament end Friday. Hideki Matsuyama (No. 5) and Rory McIlroy (No. 6) were the other early exits among the top seven.
But there’s still a stellar group advancing.
Friday promised intrigue with a Spieth-Patrick Reed match to decide which 2-0 player would make it 3-0 in pool play and go to the Round of 16 from their group. The match was maligned by sloppy play early – with Spieth going 2 down after a drive going out of bounds at the first and a ball in the hazard at No. 2 – but the renowned Ryder/Presidents Cup duo got back on track.
When Spieth stuffed his approach to tap-in range for birdie to win the 10th, the match was all square. But a bogey at 11 moved Spieth 1 down, and Reed was 3 up by the time they reached the 16th tee.
Spieth won the 16th to extend the match and his Round-of-16 hopes, but Reed crushed them when he drained a 40-footer from off the green for birdie at the par-3 17th and got a 2-and-1 win.
Reed (the No. 19 seed) wasn’t the only player to slay a giant Friday to reach the Round of 16.
Brian Harman demolished McIlroy 5 and 3 to win their pool and move on. The No. 18 seed never trailed in the match as he moved to 2-0-1 to get out of the group.
Sergio Garcia (the No. 7) won five of six holes from Nos. 12-17 to turn a 2-down deficit into a 3-and-1 win over Xander Schauffele. Both players entered at 2-0, meaning Garcia’s turnaround saved him a spot in the Round of 16.
Charles Howell III went undefeated in pool play, as did Ian Poulter. With Howell ranking at No. 59 and Ian Poulter the No. 58, they are the two lowest-seeded players to advance.
Si Woo Kim (No. 50) is close behind.
Kyle Stanley (No. 45), Louis Oosthuizen (No. 25) and Tyrrell Hatton (No. 12) survived playoffs to advance to the Round of 16. Bubba Watson, the 35th seed, won the 18th in his Friday match for a halve to avoid a playoff and move on.
Cameron Smith also got a halve, as the 46th seed reached the weekend, too. Kevin Kisner (No. 32) was able to avoid a playoff and advance as well when the other Friday match in his group ended in a halve rather than an Adam Hadwin win.
Sixteenth-seeded Matt Kuchar had a hole-in-one in a 6-and-4 romp to advance.
Alex Noren (No. 13) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (No. 28) were among those a perfect 3-0 in pool play to advance.
Phil Mickelson went 2-1 in the group stage but failed to move on. Jason Day was also eliminated after a 1-2 showing.
The Round of 16 and quarterfinals will take place Saturday, with the semifinals and final going down on Sunday.