Recap: 64 golfers this week started on the quest to be the last one standing come Sunday afternoon. In its first year at Austin Country Club, The Dell Match Play did not disappoint. Excitement, drama, and great golf were on full display in this match play format. The 16 groups of four golfers each were determined this previous Monday and the round robin format began Wednesday with each golfer playing there first opponent. They played the other two golfers in their groups on Thursday and Friday earning a point for a win and a half point for a halved match. The person in each group with the most points at the end of the round robin format would advance to the single elimination round of 16. The group stage led to a lot of excitement and produced winners like Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson. In the round of 16, Louis Oosthuisen was able to knock off world number 1, Jordan Spieth and McIlroy was able to outlast Zach Johnson. The quarterfinal’s featured wins by McIlroy, Day and Oosthuizen and surprise performer Rafael Cabrera-Bello out of Spain as they advanced to the semi-finals on Sunday morning. Day and McIlroy squared off in the first semifinal as the number 2 and 3 golfers dueled until the last hole. Day was one up going into 18 where both he and McIlroy found themselves just off the green with their second shots. Day left himself a much harder chip and ran it past to 12 feet. Rory mishit his putt through the rough and his ball barely made it to the green but with some help from the slope, it made its way to 6 feet from the cup. Day ended all doubts as he made his putt to advance to the finals and to eliminate McIlroy. In the second semifinals match, Cabrera-Bello’s Cinderella run came to an end as he seemed nervous and out of sorts at times. Oosthuizen, number 16 in the world and former major champion, just played solid all day and forced Cabrera-Bello to try and match him, which he couldn’t. Oosthuizen advanced to the Championship match with ease and faced Day. Major champion vs. major champion, world number 2 vs. 16, Australia vs. South Africa, these two competitors battled it out Sunday afternoon in Austin for the right to be a World Golf Champion and hold the match play title. Oosthuizen was able to jump out of the gate with a win on the first hole but Day came right back and took the lead 1 up after Louis conceded hole 2 and Day birdied the next hole. From that point, Oosthuizen never quite could match Day as he pulled away and he eventually was 4 down after 13. Against the firepower of Day, that deficit proved to be too much as Jason Day beat Louis Oosthuizen 5&4 to win the Dell Match Play. This marks his 6th win in 13 starts. On Monday morning when the Official World Golf Rankings come out, Jason Day will be number one as he jumps Jordan Spieth for top spot. Jason Day has looked like the best golfer in the world now for the past 8 months and he is looking to build on it starting a week from now at Augusta. If he plays his best, no one in the world can beat him. It will be something to watch to see if he can continue his good play against the world’s best and with the eyes of the public throughout the world watching him.
Shot of the Day: If you include this morning’s matches, the shot of the day is definitely Day’s putt on the 18th in the semifinal match against McIlroy. This 12 footer was to secure the match and move onto the finals. There was never a doubt as Day poured in the right-to-left breaker.
Looking Ahead: Next week is the last tournament before The Masters. The Shell Houston Open will host some of the best in the world like Spieth, Fowler, Mickelson and D. Johnson. Its interesting to see some player’s strategy a week before a major. If you play well, you can definitely gain momentum headed into the years first major championship. On the flip side, a bad weekend or a missed cut can create doubt for some.
Prediction: I like Spieth this week, he seemed to have found his game at the match play event and he lost in a playoff last year in Houston. I think it is his week and it all comes together for him at the right time. Also I like Brooks Koepka to play well. Coming off a quarterfinals loss to Jason Day in the match play, Koepka seem to be playing well and the course sets up well for him. At over 7400 yards, this course will give an advantage to those who hit the ball far like Koepka.
Cover photo: http://www.skysports.com