List Upsets Thomas WGC-Match Play

Luke List pulled off the biggest of three upsets in the first round of Group Play in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, while Maverick McNealy of Stanford had the most one-sided of those opening surprises at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas.

List (pictured), seeded No. 53, knocked off Justin Thomas, top-seeded in Group 6, taking a 1-up lead with a birdie on the second hole and never trailing on to way to a 3-and-2 victory. List made a brilliant par save to halve the 13th hole after hitting into the water and took control with a birdie at No. 14.

It was a bit of revenge for List, who lost a playoff to Thomas at the 2018 Honda Classic.

“I didn’t make too many mistakes,” said List, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory earlier this year at Torrey Pines. “I think we both played OK, I just feel like we weren’t scoring the best, but it’s tricky to make a lot of birdies out there. I kept it in front of me and I think that putt on 13 was a big putt, just to have that one and to never really relinquish the early 1-up lead at any point was good.

“I hadn’t played great since the win (at Torrey Pines), been fighting a little bit of an injury, but I got a really great caddie and he was really positive and kind of us just, we were having fun a little bit, took some pressure off today. I was definitely the underdog, Justin’s a great player …  he’s gotten the better of me in the past so I wanted to get one on him.”

McNealy, seeded 64th and last in the field, only getting into the tournament early this week when Sam Burns withdrew after winning the Valspar Championship last week, made quick work 14th seeded Joaquin Nieman of Chile by winning five of the first seven holes before taking a 6-up lead at the turn en route to an 8-and-6 victory.

Then McNealy won the 11th hole with par to move 7 up with seven holes remaining and finished things off with a birdie on the 12. It was the eighth match in tournament history with a margin of victory of 8 and 6 or larger.

“I was home last week, really hoping I’d get the chance to play, preparing like I was going to get a chance to play,” said McNealy, who is tied with Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers with 11 victories at Stanford, but has yet to win as a pro. “And had a nice round today, for sure.

“(The course) suits my eye. I noticed that immediately when I got out here on Sunday evening, before I was in the field, and I said I really hope I get a chance to play because I love the way it looks.”

In another upset of a player who was ranked No. 1 in his, No. 50 Alex Noren of Sweden defeated 10th-seeded Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, 1 up, even though Oosthuizen made seven birdies but never led in the match.

Noren was 3-up after five holes because of an eagle and three birdies, and held on to win.

“Just a good battle and I was lucky to come out on top,” said Noren, who is 14-5 in match play.

In addition to those upsets, No. 62-seeded Keith Mitchell halved his match with No. 4 Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, and No. 54 Richard Bland halved with No. 9 Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis.

No.1-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, No. 2 Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, No. 3 Viktor Hovland of Norway, No. 5 Scottie Scheffler, No. 7 Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, No. 8 Dustin Johnson, No. 11 Jordan Spieth, No. 12 Billy Horschel, the defending champion, No. 13 Tyrrell Hatton of England, No. 15 Abraham Ancer of Mexico and No. 16 Brooks Koepka all won their first-round matches.

The second round on Group Play will be contested on Thursday.

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