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WGC-Dell Match Play

One-sentence summaries of where all 16 Match Play groups stand heading into the greatest Friday in golf

March 25, 2021
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Michael Reaves

Patrick Reed fist bumps Christiaan Bezuidenhout after beating the South African on Thursday at the WGC-Dell Match Play.

AUSTIN — Sixteen players will emerge from Friday’s final day of group play at the WGC-Dell Match Play. Who will emerge from each group has boiled down to simple scenarios in a few cases, while a few others remain complex. All, however, are intriguing in their own ways. Here’s your one-sentence guide to each.

Warning: Some of these sentences will be long. Use this group standings page as a guide.

Group 1: With his late heroics to tie Robert MacIntyre, aka the Shocking Scotsman (nickname still a work in progress), Dustin Johnson breathed new life into hopes that were looking slim just half an hour before, and now he and MacIntyre are knotted at 1.5 points, meaning that if one wins his Friday match (D.J. vs. Kevin Na, MacIntyre vs. Adam Long) and the other loses, that will be enough to advance, while if they both win, they'll face off again in sudden death, and if both lose and Adam Long wins, Long can still go through BUT WAIT, because if DJ ties and Long wins, it will be those two in sudden death and look, I told you that some of these sentences will be long.

Group 2: This is the Group of Death, and Kevin Kisner and Matt Kuchar, both 2-0, will play in the most anticipated match of the day (and a rematch of 2019’s championship) for the right to advance to the knockout stages.

Group 3: Sadly, our last simple, old-fashioned cut-and-dry group, where Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer have each won their first two matches and will play for the weekend on Friday.

Group 4: With a win and a draw for 1.5 points, group leader J.T. Poston has earned win-and-in status when he takes on Max Homa, but if he loses, Homa will leap-frog him to two points, while Billy Horschel can also reach two points to either tie Homa or tie Poston if Poston should tie Homa, and meanwhile poor Collin Morikawa has been eliminated and folks, I told you some of these sentences would be long.

Group 5: A terrific Bryson DeChambeau-Tommy Fleetwood match highlights Friday in Group 5, with Fleetwood holding a slim group lead at 1.5 points, meaning that like Poston above, he can win and advance, but DeChambeau will jump him with a victory and French media-darling Antoine Rozner is still alive at one point with a chance to force a playoff with DeChambeau or Fleetwood (if Fleetwood ties).

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Michael Reaves

In a Ryder Cup-revisited match, Tommy Fleetwood takes on Bryson DeChambeau on Friday to see who will play on the weekend.

Group 6: It's Xander Schauffele and Scottie Sheffler (don't say it 10 times fast) dueling it out Friday at 1.5 points each in what is almost a two-man race, except that if they tie and Andy Sullivan beats Jason Day, it will be a three-man playoff for the weekend.

Group 7: Group leader Patrick Reed (1.5 points) controls his own destiny, which is a very dangerous thing for one of the game’s top match-play golfers, and if he beats Joaquin Niemann, he’s in, though Niemann and Bubba Watson are very much alive if Reed has a Friday misstep.

Group 8: Sergio Garcia is about as safe as you can be without clinching, and at 2-0 he’ll advance with a win or a tie against winless Matt Wallace, while Lee Westwood at 1-1 needs a win against Tyrrell Hatton (already eliminated) and a Garcia loss just to force sudden death.

Group 9: Similar to Garcia, underdog and No. 48-seed Mackenzie Hughes has a vice grip on his group with a 2-0 record, and a win or tie against Talor Gooch (0-2) will be enough to see him through, while Webb Simpson and Paul Casey need a full point against each other and a Hughes loss to reach sudden death and pluck a thread of hope from a desperate situation.

Group 10: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Patrick Cantlay is in the Garcia-Hughes situation at 2-0, and is also playing the worst opponent in his group (Hideki Matsuyama, eliminated at 0-2) while needing just a win or tie to take the group, but Carlos Ortiz and Brian Harman at one point each will fight for that critical second win and hope Cantlay blows it to give them a shot in sudden death.

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Steve Dykes

Patrick Cantlay tosses a ball on the first tee in his Thursday match against Carlos Ortiz.

Group 11: If you made the bold prediction that Ian Poulter would find success in match play, congratulations on your foresight, because he is now 2-0 and will advance with a Friday win or tie against Lanto Griffin, while Rory McIlroy and Cameron Smith are in win-and-pray mode, each needing that elusive second win and a Poulter loss to sneak into a playoff against one of the greatest match golfers ever … should be a cinch.

Group 12: Only Jason Kokrak, at 1-1, can catch undefeated Dylan Frittelli, and the only situation that leads us to a playoff scenario is a Frittelli loss to Will Zalatoris and a Kokrak win over Finau.

Group 13: Abe Ancer has been dominant in Group 13, and his success against Bernd Wiesberger and Kevin Streelman has him needing a win or tie against Viktor Hovland (0-2) to advance as Wiesberger and Streelman fight for the 2-1 group record and pray for an Ancer loss.

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Michael Reaves

Abraham Ancer has the chance to close out Group 13 with a win or a tie against Viktor Hovland on Friday.

Group 14: Our first of two mad-cap madhouse madman anything-goes scenarios, where every single player is at one point and a million scenarios are possible including the glorious Friday double-tie (Daniel Berger vs. Harris English, Brendon Todd vs. Eric van Rooyen) that would result in a four-man playoff, but more likely the winner of each match finish at two points and meet for some sudden-death action.

Group 15: With Jordan Spieth’s late collapse to Matthew Wolff, this is now a wide open group where Spieth and Wolff lead at 1.5 points and would face each other again in sudden death if both won on Friday, but Matt Fitzpatrick has new life at 1-1 and can give himself a shot with a win over Wolff while Spieth tries to finish strong against Corey Conners.

Group 16: The otherr absolute cluster ... you-know-what, with every player at 1-1 and literally everything up for grabs in the Friday matches that see Sunjae Im take on Victor Perez and Marc Leishman meet Russell Henley, with the winner of each guaranteeing himself at least a spot in the sudden-death playoff or perhaps an outright group win if the other match ends in a tie, all the while fans of chaos will of course be rooting for two Friday ties and the ensuing four-man playoff.