Charley Hoffman pulled off one of seven upsets of players top-seeded in their groups, beating defending champion Jason Day of Australia, 4 and 3, in the first round of the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Hoffman, from Poway and UNLV, won the last four holes, three with birdies after the match was all-square through 11 holes, to beat Day, who is No. 1 in Group 7.
The tournament is being played under a new format this year, as instead of single elimination, the players are grouped by fours and will play a round-robin against the other three players in their group the first three days.
The winners of the 16 groups advance to single elimination on the weekend.
“You know, I just kept the ball in play,” said Hoffman, who captured the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November for this third PGA Tour victory. “I hit a lot of fairways and hit a lot of greens, and made a few putts coming down the stretch for some birdies. He struggled a little off the tee today and I took advantage of it a little bit.
“(No.) 11 was a big swing. He hit it in there really close. And I had a 5 or 6‑footer for par, and he missed and I made. And I was able to roll in a birdie on 12. And he didn’t make that one. I was able to make a birdie on 13. It was a nice little finish there and it’s nice to get done early.”
In other first round upsets, John Senden of Australia beat Henrik Stenson of Sweden on the 19th hole in Group 3; Mark Leishman of Australia defeated Justin Rose of England, 3 and 2, in Group 6; Francesco Molinari of Italy routed Adam Scott of Australia, 5 and 4, in Group 9; Gary Woodland downed Jimmy Walker on the 19th hole in Group 11; Marc Warren of Scotland knocked off J.B. Holmes, 2 and 1, in Group 12, and Ben Martin turned back Matt Kuchar, 1 up, in Group 14.
Martin was even with Kuchar when they reached the 17th hole, but pulled ahead by making a dramatic hole in one from 243 yards with a hybrid club and won by halving the final hole.
Top-seeded players to win included Rory McIroy of Northern Ireland over Jason Dufner, 5 and 4, in Group 1; Jordan Spieth over Mikko Ilonen of Finland, 4 and 2, in Group 2; Bubba Watson over Miguel Angel Jimenez, 5 and 4, in Group 4; Jim Furyk over George Coetzee of South Africa in Group 5; Dustin Johnson over Matt Jones of Australia, 3 and 1 in Group 8; Sergio Garcia of Spain over Tommy Fleetwood of England in Group 10; Rickie Fowler over Harris English, 1 up in Group 13; Patrick Reed over Andy Sullivan of England, 2 and 1 in Group 15, and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan over Alexander Levy of France, 5 and 4.