WGC-Dell Match Play 2018: Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson Advance to Semifinals

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2018

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 24:  Justin Thomas of the United States plays his shot from the fifth tee during the fourth round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 24, 2018 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Knockout-round action took center stage Saturday at the 2018 WGC-Dell Match Play Championships. 

The morning featured eight elimination clashes in the round of 16, while the afternoon sessions saw eight golfers square off with spots in the semifinals up for grabs.  

Below, we'll provide an overview of the day's results and make sure you're caught up on all the latest highlights from Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas. 


2018 WGC-Dell Match Play Championships Results - March 24

Round of 16

  • No. 2 Justin Thomas def. No. 50 Si Woo Kim (6 and 5)
  • No. 45 Kyle Stanley def. No. 7 Sergio Garcia (3 and 1)
  • No. 13 Alex Noren def. No. 19 Patrick Reed (5 and 3)
  • No. 35 Bubba Watson def. No. 18 Brian Harman (2 and 1)
  • No. 46 Cameron Smith def. No. 12 Tyrell Hatton (2 and 1)
  • No. 28 Kiradech Aphibarnrat def. No. 59 Charles Howell III (1 up)
  • No. 58 Ian Poulter def. No. 25 Louis Oosthuizen (2 and 1)
  • No. 32 Kevin Kisner def. No. 16 Matt Kuchar (1 up)



  • No. 35 Bubba Watson def. No. 28 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (5 and 3)
  • No. 32 Kevin Kisner def. No. 58 Ian Poulter (8 and 6)
  • No. 13 Alex Noren def No. 46 Cameron Smith (4 and 2)
  • No. 2 Justin Thomas def. No. 45 Kyle Stanley (2 and 1)


Saturday's Highlights

Round of 16

Justin Thomas showed no signs of slowing down in his quarterfinal thrashing of Si Woo Kim. 

Coming off a 7 and 5 win over Francesco Molinari on Friday, Thomas came out firing on all cylinders and continued to look like the sharpest player on tour in his first tournament since winning the Honda Classic a month ago. 


Day 1: 2-up ✅ Day 2: 3 and 1 ✅ Day 3: 7 and 5 ✅ Day 4: 6 and 5 ✅ @JustinThomas34 is dominating @DellMatchPlay. https://t.co/j4L3FIKf7N

Thomas figured to be headed for a quarterfinal showdown with Sergio Garcia, but those plans were altered when American Kyle Stanley dispatched the Spaniard with a convincing 3 and 1 win that was aided by clutch birdies on No. 16 and No. 17. 

No Laying Up on Twitter noted the 30-year-old has been showing steady improvement for over a year now and appears to be one of the most improved players the sport has to offer: 

No Laying Up @NoLayingUp

Kyle Stanley was ranked in the 250's at the start of 2017. He revamped his game, won last year, and is now 2nd on tour in driving accuracy (!). He just knocked off the Masters champ to get into the final 8. Pretty incredible resurgence.

Quarterfinal action was also highlighted by some drama between Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Charles Howell III. 

Although Aphibarnrat was down one through 16 holes, he birdied the par-three 17th to bring things all square and broke through with another birdie on the 18th to stun Howell, as the PGA Tour documented on Twitter: 


What a comeback! @Kiradech Aphibarnrat birdies the last two holes to win 1-up @DellMatchPlay. #QuickHits https://t.co/nXZSCsw4gU

Not too shabby for a guy who missed the cut last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 



However, Aphibarnrat's run ended there. 

Bubba Watson—who took care of Brian Harman in the round of 16—broke an all-square deadlock on the 10th hole and picked up serious steam on the back nine. 

The Genesis Open champion carded birdies on each of the next three holes, and he took a comfortable four-up lead into the home stretch before walking away with a 5 and 3 win. 

After the quarterfinal victory, Watson told NBC some tweaks to his putter have helped steady his game around the greens: 


Bubba's putting is improving at a rapid rate. Look out. https://t.co/WyrmpIkJcK

He will now set his sights on a semifinal date with Justin Thomas—who followed Watson's script and used a couple of birdies at No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12 to seize control against Stanley and never look back. 

The other semifinal will pit Alex Noren against Kevin Kisner. 

Both players put together wire-to-wire wins in the quarterfinals, but it was the American who turned heads as he throttled Ian Poulter, 8 and 6, to punch his ticket to the final four. 

According to PGATour.com's Mike McAllister, Kisner's win was tied for the third-largest in the tournament's history: 

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

This is the 4th straight year that a top-2 overall seed reached the semi-finals. The previous 3 times, that player went on to win the Championship (McIlroy, Day, Johnson).

Kisner will look to build off that dominant outing Sunday with a spot in the finals on the line. 


Semifinal Schedule

No. 2 Justin Thomas vs. No. 35 Bubba Watson: 10 a.m. ET

No. 13 Alex Noren vs. No. 32 Kevin Kisner: 10:15 a.m. ET