A quirky course in a veritable wind tunnel is, what, taxing? Punishing? Silly? “It was fun,” said Phil Mickelson, who enjoys a thrill ride more than most. Mickelson won his match on Thursday.
So did Dustin Johnson, who seems incapable of not having fun on a golf course these days.
Johnson, who has taken over No. 1 in the World Ranking and appears to be settling in for an extended stay, defeated Martin Kaymer, 3 & 2, in the second round of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play on an exceedingly windy day at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas.
“It was difficult,” he said. “Very breezy and really gusty at times.”
He won his match, accordingly, in a breeze. On the first hole he took a lead that he never relinquished and was four-up with four to play.
In two matches, Johnson has yet to trail in a dominant run with the Masters on the horizon.
Johnson is chasing a third straight victory, following wins in the Genesis Open and the WGC-Mexico Championship. Even when he hasn’t won this year, he was a threat to do so, save for an unexpected missed cut in the Farmers Insurance Open. He tied for sixth in the SBS Tournament of Champions and finished third in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Mickelson, meanwhile, made quick work of Daniel Berger, winning, 5 & 4, to run his record to 2—0. “I think it’s fun,” he said of playing in the windy conditions. “It’s a hard challenge. “It’s great for match play because you don’t worry about the strokes.”
Fun? The wind was such that Jordan Spieth and Yute Ikeda halved the 13th hole with double-bogeys in their match. Spieth won the match, 4 & 2, to even his record at 1-1.
Bubba Watson won his second straight match, 4 & 3, over Scott Piercy, and ran his birdie total to 10 in two days, suggesting his early season doldrums are behind him.
“The ball position,” he said, explaining why his form has improved. “Just moving over so I can hit shots that I’m used to hitting. Maybe that weight loss or something got me out of whack. Now we’ve got the ball position in the right place. Putting is tremendously different from the whole year. Everything’s coming back to what we call normal.”
Upsets in the second round include Justin Thomas losing to Kevin Na, Hideki Matsuyama losing to Ross Fisher, and Patrick Reed losing to Kevin Kisner.
Rory McIlroy was a winner when his opponent, Gary Woodland, withdrew for personal reasons, but he was eliminated from advancing to the round of 16. In the first round on Wednesday, McIlroy lost to Soren Kjeldsen, who defeated Emiliano Grillo on Wednesday. Kjeldsen, who was scheduled to play Woodland in the third round on Friday, wins the match as a result of Woodland's WD, and will finish group play with a 3-0 record, while the best McIlroy can do is finish 2-1.