As the second day of the Dell Technologies Match Play heads for a conclusion, already 14 of the 32 matches have gone the distance and six winners staged back-nine comebacks to win.
Friday is the final session of round-robin, and only one group will feature an undefeated pairing: Corey Conners of Canada against Alex Noren of Sweden. Neither had to play Paul Casey, out all week with back spasms.
There also is only one meaningless match between 0-2 records — Casey against Louis Oosthuizen — and that won't be played because Casey withdrew from the tournament.
Among the top seeds from each group already eliminated are Patrick Cantlay, Oosthuizen, Bryson DeChambeau. Also eliminated is Keegan Bradley. Even though he rallied to halve his match against Adam Scott, it was his 14th consecutive match without winning in this tournament.
Kevin Kisner, who has won the Match Play and been a runner-up, was the latest to stage a comeback. He birdied three of his last four holes in going from 2 down with five to play to a 1-up victory over Luke List.
The old boys from Blighty will be battling each other with a chance to win their group in the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Lee Westwood lost a lead to Bryson DeChambeau and then beat him on the 18th to raise his record to 1-1-0. The 48-year-old from England is the only player in the field who was at the first Match Play at La Costa in 1999.
Richard Bland is a 49-year-old from England. He halved his match with DeChambeau on Wednesday, and then survived a roller coaster to beat Talor Gooch and improve to 1-0-1. Bland had a 4-up lead through eight holes, and Gooch squared the match on the 16th. Bland birdied the 17th and held on for the win.
Their group has loads of possibilities. But if Bland beats Westwood, he advances to the weekend. If Westwood wins, he only advances if DeChambeau beats Gooch.
Westwood says he and Bland go back to junior golf some 30 years ago. When Bland suggested an ambulance might be following along given their age, Westwood replied, “I’m the young guy. I’m still 48 for another month.”
Patrick Cantlay is the highest-ranked player at No. 4 who will show up Friday at the Dell Technologies Match Play with no chance of winning his group.
The second day of round-robin matches is when some players get eliminated. Cantlay had a halve with Keith Mitchell in the opening session. And then he lost big to Seamus Power of Ireland, 5 and 4, to fall to 0-1-1 for the week. Power is 2-0-0, so Cantlay even by winning his third match can beat that.
Tony Finau and Ian Poulter are in the same situation. Finau missed an 8-foot putt on the final hole and lost to Takumi Kanaya, his second loss of the week. Poulter lost to Matt Fitzpatrick and fell to 0-2, knocking him out of weekend play.
The others to be eliminated so far are Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Robert MacIntyre, Tom Hoge, Keith Mitchell and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
Cantlay has yet to advance out of group play in his four years at the Match Play.
Paul Casey's lost week at the Dell Technologies Match Play is officially over.
Casey played only two holes Wednesday when he began suffering back spasms and conceded the match against Corey Conners. He warmed up Thursday morning and barely got through his wedges when he realized he couldn't go and forfeited to Alex Noren.
Casey later in the day withdrew instead of trying to play Friday, and it was just as well. He was to face Louis Oosthuizen, who already lost two matches. Both already are eliminated.
Meanwhile, add Sergio Garcia to the list of big rallies. He was 3 down to British Open champion Collin Morikawa when the Spaniard won the next three holes with birdies. They parred the last two holes and the match ended in a draw.
Lucas Herbert, Takumi Kanaya and Bubba Watson have staged rallies on the back nine to pick up wins in the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Herbert was 2 down and hitting it everywhere off the tee against Xander Schauffele. But he won the 13th with a superb chip behind the green and the 15th with a strong fairway bunker shot that set up birdie. They were all square on the 18th when Herbert laid back off the tee and hit his approach to 8 feet for birdie.
Tony Finau was 2 up with four holes to play when Kanaya chipped in on the 15th, birdied the 16th and made a tough birdie putt on the 17th to take the lead. Finau missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have earned a halve.
Watson was 1 down to Webb Simpson with two holes left when he made a 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th to square the match, and Simpson bogeyed the final hole to lose.
Paul Casey's warmup lasted only a few minutes before he realized his back was not good enough to play in the Dell Technologies Match Play. He conceded his Thursday match to Alex Noren but has not withdrawn from the tournament yet.
Casey was all square through two holes in the opening session of round-robin play on Wednesday when he suffered back spasms and conceded the match to Corey Conners. His hope was to play the next two matches and try to advance from his group.
Now he is eliminated. There are a number of Friday matches each year between players who have been eliminated. Still at stake is money and FedEx Cup points, and Casey has not ruled out playing Friday, although it would seem unlikely.
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