Washington – Rory McIlroy remained unbeaten, Tiger Woods suffered a vital loss and defending champion Bubba Watson and two-time winner Jason Day had been eradicated on Thursday on the WGC-Match Play Championship.
The 64-player showdown that includes the world rating leaders at Austin (Texas) Nation Membership begins with three days of group play to find out 16 berths in weekend knockout matches to resolve a champion.
Fourth seed McIlroy defeated South Africa’s 47th-seeded Justin Harding Three&2, eagles on the par-5 12th and 16th and a birdie on the par-Four 15th tipping a squared match his option to give him a 2-Zero document and group lead.
“One of many huge issues over the past couple of days is I have been pleased with how I’ve responded. I performed the shot after I wanted to – I holed the putt after I wanted to.
“Once I sense just a little little bit of blood I am taking my alternatives. At any time when I’ve to step up and hit a shot on high of a man I have been in a position to do this very well.”
McIlroy, who has by no means trailed in two days, wants solely a draw with English 32nd seed Matthew Fitzpatrick on Friday to advance.
Brandt Snedeker by no means trailed in beating 14-time main champion Woods 2&1 to share the lead in an all-American group with Patrick Cantlay, who beat Aaron Sensible Four&2.
For any likelihood to achieve the weekend in his first Match Play begin since 2013, three-time winner Woods should beat Cantlay on Friday and have Sensible defeat or draw Snedeker.
“We each made a few errors on the market however he made a couple of much less errors than I did,” Woods mentioned.
“All I can do is hopefully get a degree tomorrow and see if that is adequate.”
Woods made an unbelievable third shot on the 10th gap on his knees, knocking the ball from beneath an enormous bush some 32 toes to simply 4 toes from the cup and halved the outlet.
“My very own youngsters had been in all probability rooting for him,” Snedeker admitted.
Snedeker sank a nine-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th for a 2-up lead and halved 17 to seal the victory.
“It was loads of enjoyable,” Snedeker mentioned.
“Neither one in all us made loads of putts. It got here right down to me making an excellent putt on 16 and that gave me the little bump I wanted to win.”
England’s second-seeded Justin Rose was Three-down with 4 holes remaining however charged again with lengthy birdie putts to halve with compatriot Eddie Pepperell on a day when 17 of 32 matches went to the 18th gap.
Rose birdied to win the 15th from 13 toes, sank a 23-footer on the par-Three 17th to remain within the match, then closed the duel on a tense 10-footer at 18 to complete stage.
“My aim was to birdie out,” Rose mentioned of the ultimate 4 holes.
“You set your intention and overlook the remaining and that is what occurred.”
Rose should beat US 22nd seed Gary Woodland, a 1-up winner over Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, on Friday to advance.
Watson was eradicated with a 2&1 loss to fellow American Billy Horschel whereas 12th seed Day, a two-time champion, was ousted together with his second defeat, falling Four&Three to Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.
Stenson performs Jim Furyk, who eradicated five-time main winner Phil Mickelson 1-up, on Friday to resolve a spot within the final 16.
South Africa’s 40th-seeded Branden Grace beat world primary Dustin Johnson 1-up. A 38-foot birdie putt at 17 by Grace proved the distinction after Johnson missed a 17-foot birdie putt at 18.
“It is all the time good to beat the primary participant on this planet,” mentioned Grace, who can do no worse than a playoff with Johnson – who should beat Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and have Grace lose to American Chez Reavie to power it.
China’s Li Haotong edged US third seed Brooks Koepka 1-up to eradicate the reigning US Open and PGA champion from title rivalry.
Aussie Marc Leishman beat Scotsman Russell Knox 2-up for the group lead after Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat beat US sixth seed Bryson DeChambeau 2&1.
Outcomes from Thursday’s matches on the WGC-Match Play Championship at Austin (Texas) Nation Membership (Group winners advance to knockout stage):
Branden Grace (RSA x40) bt Dustin Johnson (USA x1) 1 up
Hideki Matsuyama (JPN x24) and Chez Reavie (USA x55) halved
Justin Rose (ENG x2) and Eddie Pepperell (ENG x34) halved
Gary Woodland (USA x22) bt Emiliano Grillo (ARG x53) 1-up
Li Haotong (CHN x36) bt Brooks Koepka (USA x3) 1-up
Alex Noren (SWE x27) bt Tom Lewis (ENG x60) Four&2
Rory McIlroy (NIR x4) bt Justin Harding (RSA x47) Three&2
Luke Listing (USA x64) bt Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG x32) 2&1
Justin Thomas (USA x5) bt Matt Wallace (ENG x33) Three&1
Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN x50) and Keegan Bradley (USA x31) halved
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA x39) bt Bryson DeChambeau (USA x6) 2&1
Marc Leishman (USA x17) bt Russell Knox (SCO x59) 2-up
Francesco Molinari (ITA x7) bt Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN x45) Four&Three
Satoshi Kodaira (JPN x63) and Webb Simpson (USA x21) halved
JB Holmes (USA x43) bt Jon Rahm (ESP x8) 2&1
Matt Kuchar (USA x23) bt Kim Si-woo (KOR x54) 6&Four
Xander Schauffele (USA x9) and Tyrrell Hatton (ENG x35) halved
Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP x29) and Lee Westwood (ENG x62) halved
Paul Casey (ENG x10) and Charles Howell (USA x42) halved
Abraham Ancer (MEX x58) bt Cameron Smith (AUS x25) Three&2
Tommy Fleetwood (ENG x11) and Kyle Stanley (USA x41) halved
Louis Oosthuizen (RSA x19) bt An Byeong-hun (KOR x49) 1-up
Henrik Stenson (SWE x37) bt Jason Day (AUS x12) Four&Three
Jim Furyk (USA x52) bt Phil Mickelson (USA x20) 1-up
Brandt Snedeker (USA x44) bt Tiger Woods (USA x13) 2&1
Patrick Cantlay (USA x18) bt Aaron Sensible (USA x61) Four&2
Kevin Kisner (USA x48) bt Tony Finau (USA x14) 2-up
Keith Mitchell (USA x56) bt Ian Poulter (ENG x30) 1-up
Jordan Spieth (USA x28) bt Kevin Na (USA x57) Three&2
Billy Horschel (USA x38) bt Bubba Watson (USA x15) 2&1
Sergio Garcia (ESP x26) bt Andrew Putnam (USA x51) 5&Four
Patrick Reed (USA x16) and Shane Lowry (IRL x46) halved