WGC-Dell Match Play 2019: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy Advance to Round of 16

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2019

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 09:  Tiger Woods of the United States walks with Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland during the first round of the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 9, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

A superstar clash between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will headline the round of 16 in the 2019 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play after both golfers won their final group-stage matches Friday at Austin Country Club in Texas.

Woods defeated Patrick Cantlay (4 and 2) despite going two down through eight holes. Meanwhile, McIlroy cruised past Matthew Fitzpatrick (4 and 2) after building a four-up lead on the front side en route to completing an undefeated run through his pool.

Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari and Paul Casey are among the other notable names moving on to the tournament's knockout stages.


Friday Results

Group 1: Hideki Matsuyama defeated Dustin Johnson (3 and 2)

Group 1: Branden Grace defeated Chez Reavie (2 and 1)

Group 2: Emiliano Grillo defeated Eddie Pepperell (4 and 3)

Group 2: Justin Rose defeated Gary Woodland (1 Up)

Group 3: Alex Noren defeated Brooks Koepka (3 and 2)

Group 3: Tom Lewis defeated HaoTong Li (1 Up)

Group 4: Rory McIlroy defeated Matthew Fitzpatrick (4 and 2)

Group 4: Justin Harding defeated Luke List (2 Up)

Group 5: Justin Thomas tied Keegan Bradley (Halved)

Group 5: Lucas Bjerregaard defeated Matt Wallace (1 Up)

Group 6: Russell Knox defeated Kiradech Aphibarnrat (2 Up)

Group 6: Marc Leishman defeated Bryson DeChambeau (5 and 4)

Group 7: Francesco Molinari defeated Webb Simpson (2 and 1)

Group 7: Satoshi Kodaira defeated Thorbjorn Olesen (3 and 1)

Group 8: J.B. Holmes defeated Si Woo Kim (6 and 4)

Group 8: Matt Kuchar tied Jon Rahm (Halved)

Group 9: Rafa Cabrera Bello defeated Xander Schauffele (1 Up)

Group 9: Tyrrell Hatton defeated Lee Westwood (3 and 1)

Group 10: Paul Casey defeated Cameron Smith (4 and 3)

Group 10: Abraham Ancer defeated Charles Howell III (5 and 3)

Group 11: Louis Oosthuizen defeated Tommy Fleetwood (4 and 3)

Group 11: Byeong Hun An defeated Kyle Stanley (6 and 5)

Group 12: Phil Mickelson defeated Jason Day (2 Up)

Group 12: Henrik Stenson defeated Jim Furyk (5 and 4)

Group 13: Tiger Woods defeated Patrick Cantlay (4 and 2)

Group 13: Aaron Wise defeated Brandt Snedeker (6 and 4)

Group 14: Ian Poulter defeated Tony Finau (1 Up)

Group 14: Kevin Kisner defeated Keith Mitchell (2 and 1)

Group 15: Bubba Watson defeated Jordan Spieth (1 Up)

Group 15: Kevin Na defeated Billy Horschel (3 and 1)

Group 16: Patrick Reed defeated Sergio Garcia (2 and 1)

Group 16: Shane Lowry defeated Andrew Putnam (3 and 2)


Group 3: HaoTong Li defeated Alex Noren (1st Hole)

Group 14: Kevin Kisner defeated Ian Poulter (3rd Hole)


Round of 16 Matchups

(26) Sergio Garcia vs. (40) Branden Grace

(23) Matt Kuchar vs. (35) Tyrrell Hatton

(4) Rory McIlroy vs. (13) Tiger Woods

(37) Henrik Stenson vs. (50) Lucas Bjerregaard

(2) Justin Rose vs. (57) Kevin Na

(7) Francesco Molinari vs. (10) Paul Casey

(36) HaoTong Li vs. (48) Kevin Kisner

(17) Marc Leishman vs. (19) Louis Oosthuizen


Day 3 Recap

Although McIlroy entered Friday in firm control of Group 4, Woods faced a must-win situation against Cantlay and also needed some help in the form of an Aaron Wise victory over Brandt Snedeker to advance from Group 13.

Wise crushed Snedeker, taking the lead after the first hole and never relinquishing it, but it was a struggle for Tiger until he caught fire on the back nine. He posted three birdies and an eagle in a four-hole stretch starting at No. 11 to go from one down to three up.

The highlight of his surge was holing out from 82 yards on the 13th:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Tiger is getting into prime Masters' form with this eagle 💪 (via @PGATOUR) https://t.co/nZz6VpRRzN

Both Woods and McIlroy discussed their collision Saturday morning in their post-round remarks.

"We're looking forward to it," Woods told reporters. "We've played tournaments together, battled each other down the stretch at events, but never in a match play situation, so this will be fun."

"I just need to put up a better fight than I did in Atlanta last year. I didn't have much of a game that day," McIlroy added. "It's exciting for the tournament. I'm sure it's going to be exciting for us. I feel good about my game. I played well all year. I've continued to do that this week."

The 29-year-old Northern Irishman was referencing the 2018 Tour Championship, where he shot a 74 in the final round while paired with Tiger, who picked up his first victory since August 2013.


Cruise control. @McIlroyRory continues to roll. #QuickHits https://t.co/54kdrEE9Zb

Elsewhere, many of the sport's biggest names failed to punch their ticket to the next round.

Dustin Johnson, the top-ranked player in the world, dropped to 1-2 with a loss to Hideki Matsuyama. It was a surprisingly poor showing from the American, who'd recorded five top-10 finishes in six starts this year, including a victory in the WGC-Mexico Championship.

Defending U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka also finished his Dell Match Play run on a losing note, dropping a 3 and 2 decision to Alex Noren. The three-time major champion failed to record a win in group play (0-2-1).

Justin Thomas (No. 5 seed), Bryson DeChambeau (No. 6), Jon Rahm (No. 8) and Xander Schauffele (No. 9) were the other top-10 seeds who failed to earn a berth in the bracket. Defending champion Bubba Watson (No. 15) was also knocked out.

Here's a look at some more highlights from Friday's action:

Golf Channel @GolfChannel

Big putt, big fist pump 💪🏼 @TigerWoods and Patrick Cantlay are tied again. Watch the finish with PGA Tour Live on @NBCSportsGold! https://t.co/WJp7xoWT7L


Dialed. In. Another 🎯 from @HenrikStenson. #QuickHits https://t.co/yjCkVtgsYd


Matt Kuchar chips in for birdie. @JonRahmPGA responds. What a battle. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/GCoiFEs9K7


Shot trail of the day? https://t.co/b70LST5udh


First sudden-death playoff hole ... The winner advances ... Pressure is on ... @Haotong_Li is clutch. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/B4yVLLgHLc

All told, a golfer needs to win four matches over the next two days in order to win the Dell Match Play title. That makes endurance and durability much bigger factors than the average PGA Tour event, which might not bode well for Woods' chances.

The elimination of so many top players does create a more wide-open field heading into the weekend. Branden Grace and Henrik Stenson are names to watch after their unbeaten runs through tough groups.