Left-hander Robert MacIntyre of Scotland pulled off the surprise of the day, even though top-seeded Dustin Johnson hit two of the shots of the day.
Johnson (1-0-1), who was 2 down with three holes to play, sank an 11-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole and a 17-footer for birdie on the next hole to salvage a halve with No. 41 MacIntyre (1-0-1) on the second day of Group Play in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas.
“You know, he holed putts when he had to hole putts,” said MacIntyre (pictured), who has won twice on the European Tour and tied for sixth in the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush. “He does that to win numerous majors.
“I’m young. I’ve got plenty of time ahead of me. Obviously I was dying to win that match. I was in such a great position to do it. But he threw everything at me, and I can be proud of finishing there all square … but obviously inside I’m a little disappointed not to win.”
Johnson, who missed a 22-foot birdie putt to win on the last hole, plays No. 28 Kevin Na (0-2), while MacIntyre faces No. 61 Adam Long (1-1), who beat Na, 2 and 1, as Group 1 is up for grabs heading to Friday.
Defending champion Kevin Kisner (2-0), No. 34, handed No. 2 Justin Thomas his second straight defeat, and will face No. 52 Matt Kuchar (2-0), the 2013 WGC-Match Play champion, for the Group 2 title after Kooch beat No. 22 Louis Oosthizen of South Africa, 1 up.
Kisner beat Kuchar in the final two years ago, and last year’s tournament was canceled by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Amazing how different today played than yesterday,” said Kuchar, who has a 30-10-4 match play record in his career. “That’s kind of the cool thing about golf, the cool thing about Austin Country Club, how things can change. Today, it felt like survival.”
No. 35 Max Homa of Valencia (1-0-1), the 2013 NCAA champion, upset No. 4 Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge (0-1-1), 1 up, in a battle of former Cal All-Americans. No. 63 J.T. Poston (2-0) beat No. 32 Billy Horschel (1-1), 4 and 2, and will play Homa to determine the winner Group 4.
“It was one of those rounds, one of those matchups, where I don’t think we really had our best stuff,” said the surprising Poston, who beat Homa on the first day. “We definitely gave each other some easy wins throughout the match, but I felt like I did a pretty good job of staying aggressive and just trying to win holes when I had my chances and I was able to do that.”
No. 39 Sergio Garcia of Spain (2-0) took command of Group 8 with a 3-and-2 victory over No. 8 Tyrrell Hatton of England (0-1-1) and will play No. 18 Lee Westwood (1-1), who downed fellow Englishman and No. No. 51 Matt Wallace (0-2), 5 and 3.
No. 48 Mackenzie Hughes of Canada (2-0) took control in Group 9 with a 4-and-3 victory over No. 9 Webb Simpson (1-1) and will play No. 59 Talor Gooch, who lost to No. 17 Paul Casey, 3 and 2.
No. 10 Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA (2-0) is in charge in Group 10 after a 1-up victory over No. Carlos Ortiz of Mexico.
No. 11 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (1-1) bounced back from a first-round defeat to beat Lanto Griffin (0-2), by 4 and 3, but No. 60 Ian Poulter (2-0) is in control after a 1-up victory over No. 25 Cameron Smith of Australia (1-1).
No. 3 Jon Rahm of Spain is 2-0 after a 2-up victory over No. 38 Shane Lowry of Ireland, and will play for the Group 3 title against No. 24 Ryan Palmer (2-0), who beat Sebastian Munoz of Colombia, 2 and 1.
No. 27 Abraham Ancer of Mexico (2-0) leads Group 13 after a 2-and-1 victory over No. 53 Kevin Streelman, and surprising No. 64 Dylan Frittelli (2-0) of South Africa is ahead in Group after beating Jason Kokrak, 3 and 2.
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