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McIlroy stays alive as Johnson crashes out at WGC Match Play

The defending champion was beaten 4&3 by Canada’s Adam Hadwin at the Austin Country Club in Texas.

Rory McIlroy reacts to his shot from the second tee during the second round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club
Rory McIlroy reacts to his shot from the second tee during the second round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club

WORLD NUMBER ONE Dustin Johnson crashed out of the World Golf Championships Dell Technologies Match Play on Thursday after suffering his second defeat of the tournament, while Rory McIlroy stayed alive with a 2&1 win against Jhonattan Vegas.

McIlroy, who was defeated by Peter Uihlein in the opening round, now faces Brian Harman on Friday.

Harman will be in confident mood, after a 3&2 victory over Uihlein today.

Defending champion Johnson, who suffered an upset loss to Bernd Wiesberger on Wednesday, was beaten 4&3 by Canada’s Adam Hadwin at the Austin Country Club in Texas.

The loss made it impossible for Johnson to progress from Group One in the round-robin phase for the weekend’s knockout rounds, with Hadwin — who halved his opening match with Kevin Kisner — assured of finishing above the top seed.

Johnson trailed from the opening hole against 38th seed Hadwin, who set up a simple birdie chance after hitting his iron from the fairway to within four feet.

Johnson birdied the fifth to draw level but Hadwin edged back in front on the sixth after draining a 13-foot eagle putt on the 590-yard par-five.

The 30-year-old from Moose Jaw went two up at the turn with another superb putt, rolling in a 38-footer.

Johnson then found himself three down after three-putting on the par-three 11th, and his problems mounted on the 13th when his tee shot found the water hazard to help Hadwin go four up.

Hadwin sealed victory at the 15th when Johnson conceded.

A delighted Hadwin admitted he had expected a tougher challenge from Johnson.

Obviously I really expected Dustin to play a lot better than he did, I think everybody did coming into this week,” Hadwin said.

“I played extremely solid all day long. I made the putts from five and seven feet when I needed to keep the momentum on my side.

“I knew if I played well it would be a good match. And I played well.”

Elsewhere Thursday, European Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter once again demonstrated his penchant for match play with his second win of the tournament, defeating 26th seed Daniel Berger 2&1.

Poulter, who is seeded 58th, has reverted to the putter that he used during Europe’s “Miracle at Medinah” Ryder Cup win in 2012.

The Englishman is aiming for a high finish in Austin this week as he aims to snare a place in the Masters by breaking into the top 50 in the world.

“Today I holed some putts at the right time,” said Poulter.

Match play is a confidence game. If you can get out there and establish a lead early and continue to hit good shots you can put pressure on your opponent,” he added.

Poulter, who defeated compatriot and ninth seed Tommy Fleetwood on Wednesday, will now face 33rd seed Kevin Chappell on Friday aiming to seal his place in the last 16.

In other early games on Thursday, US Ryder Cup team-mates Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed set up a winner takes all showdown in Group Four with their second wins of the competition.

Spieth was a 4&2 winner over China’s Li Haotong while Reed defeated South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel by one up. Reed and fourth seed Spieth will meet on Friday to determine who advances to the knockout round.

© – AFP 2018

Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy

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