Welcome back to the second day of the WGC-Dell Match Play. That's right, it started on Wednesday so if you forgot to turn on your TV at the office, make sure you do it today. Or, just follow along here if your boss is a heartless jerk. Anyway, several big names lost on Day 1, including No. 2 Rory McIlroy (to No. 62 Soren Kjeldsen) and No. 5 Jordan Spieth (to No. 54 Hideto Tanihara). They'll be back on Thursday thanks to the round-robin format that was introduced two years ago, but they'll need help to advance to Saturday's Sweet 16. And sadly, No. 3 Jason Day withdrew in the middle of his opening match to be with his mom, who is battling cancer.
We wish the defending champ and his family the best, but even with his absence, there are plenty of great matches on tap on Thursday, including World No. 1 Dustin Johnson vs. former World No. 1 Martin Kaymer, and a meeting of Day 1 winners, Phil Mickelson and Daniel Berger. The first match (No. 13 Bubba Watson vs. No. 39 Scott Piercy) starts at 9:30 local time at Austin Country Club. And we'll keep you up with the latest scores and highlights as the action unfolds.
(All times ET)
2:20 PM: Alright . . . we promise not to overly gush over the distances the guys are hitting it at Austin C.C.
But indulge us one more time -- Dustin Johnson just hit his 3-wood 363 yards at the ninth hole. So there's that.
DJ is 3-up on Martin Kaymer through eight holes thus far. Kaymer's no short-hitter -- but don't think he had 360 with a fairway wood in the bag.
2:09 PM: One of the biggest stories Wednesday was Rory McIlroy falling to Soren Kjeldsen in the opening round.
Looks like Kjeldsen's sons are pumped about Dad's big win -- as evidenced by their attire today.
Kjeldsen takes on Emiliano Grillo, with Gary Woodland taking on Rory in the other match in that pod. That's now a must-win for Rory to stay alive in Austin -- thanks to Kjeldsen.
We hope the Kjeldsen kids will walk the fairways like that today at Austin C.C.
1:40 PM: You thought Rory McIlroy's 410-yard drive was impressive? (It was.) Ross Fisher just upped the ante at the par-5 12th hole.
Downwind, downhill . . . whatever the conditions: Hitting tee shots more than 420 yards is beyond impressive.
Fisher currently leads Patrick Reed 3 up through 13 holes -- and this drive might be just as impressive as a win over Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed might be.
1:17 PM: Also don't mind us -- but we're kind of excited for today's match between Phil Mickelson and Daniel Berger. Not just the contrast of styles -- Phil is an artist of the recovery and short-game areas, while Berger straight mashes the ball.
But there's a history here.
Berger is coming in hot after a 7-and-5 win over J.B. Holmes, too, so expect this to be one of the more fun matches of the afternoon between the 23-year-old and the five-time major champion.
12:40 PM: It was busy being Brandt Snedeker early this week -- not only did he purchase a used putter from a local Golf Galaxy before his first-round match against Will McGirt, but apparently he was giving swing tips to Bubba Watson, too.
Bubba, who has a commanding 4-up lead through 13 holes right now over Scott Piercy, explains the quick swing keys he got from Sneds.
Maybe Bubba needs to hire Sneds to come on full time. Bubba, who only attended the Ryder Cup as an assistant captain last year, is playing well so far in this match-play format -- coming off a 1-up win over Jhonattan Vegas yesterday, too.
11:50 AM: We have our first, um, interesting match-play moment of the day when Jason Dufner concedes a knee-knocker to Brooks Koepka on No. 2.
Considering Dufner's well-known troubles on short putts, this might have been one of those "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" situations.
11:42 AM: Ross Fisher makes his third birdie in four holes to grab a 3-up lead on Hideki Matsuyama. The fourth-ranked player in the world, who halved his opening day match with Jim Furyk is officially in danger of not advancing out of his group.
11:04 AM: Louis Oosthuizen tees off in his match against Jim Furyk. It may surprise many to know that Oosthuizen, a runner-up to Jason Day last year, has won more matches in this event than anyone since 2014. Also, it's an excuse to check out his silky swing.
10:31 AM: Bubba Watson gets the action started with a booming drive that cuts a bit too much and finds a fairway bunker. Bubba is going with a pink ball today, by the way.
10:39 AM: Bubba Watson drains a 24-foot putt to claim the day's first hole. The birdie was truly pretty in pink. Sorry. Forget we said that.