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Jon Rahm has crashed out of the WGC-Dell Match Play at the group stages after losing his must-win match with Billy Horschell on Friday. Rahm had left himself an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout rounds after losing to Rickie Fowler on day one but reignited his hopes after a convincing win over Keith Mitchell on day two.
However, the Spaniard had another day to forget on Friday as Horschell beat him with four holes to spare. While Rahm started 2023 on fire, he has had a number of disastrous rounds in recent weeks which may have dented his confidence going into the first major of the year at Augusta in two weeks.
The world number two didn’t score a single birdie over his 14 holes with Horschell on Friday afternoon in Texas and was five-over par for his round when the American sealed victory. Horschell’s win over Rahm also means that Rickie Fowler’s hopes of playing at the Masters are hanging by a thread. Fowler now needs to win in Valero next week to qualify for the showpiece event.
Winners and losers
World number one, Scottie Scheffler, won yet again on Friday to ensure safe passage through to the last 16. He overcame Tom Kim on Friday after defeating Davis Riley and Alex Noren earlier in the week and has a last-16 tie with JT Poston to look forward to on Saturday.
Rory Mcilroy, who hit the shot of the week on day two, matched Scheffler’s feat of three wins out of three after beating Keegan Bradley. The match-up was one of the most hotly anticipated matches of the group stages after the pair enjoyed an enthralling battle in the Ryder Cup in 2012.
Rory McIlroy vs Keegan Bradley Highlights 🎥#DellMatchPlay
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) March 25, 2023
Speaking after his victory, Mcilroy said:
“I think everyone knows I came here this week with a slightly different driver set-up and I’m getting more and more confident with it as the days go by. I drove it great yesterday and great again today and I think this course sets up well if you can drive it in the fairway and drive it long, especially these last few holes.
I was a little happier with my putting on the front nine, I missed a couple of short ones coming in there which meant I probably could have put Keegan away a little bit earlier, but overall everything feels pretty good.”
The most disappointed player on day three was Jordan Spieth. The three-time major champion knew that victory over Shane Lowry, who was playing for nothing after being eliminated on Thursday, would have sealed his place in the next round, however, the Irishman came out on top with a hole to spare.
Last 16 match-ups
With the group stages now over, the knockout rounds will begin. By the end of Saturday, only four players will remain to battle it out of the championship on Sunday. The draw for the last-16 is as follows:
- Max Homa vs Mackenzie Hughes
- Patrick Cantlay vs Sam Burns
- Jason Day vs Matt Kuchar
- Scottie Scheffler vs JT Poston
- Xander Schauffele vs JJ Spaun
- Rory Mcilroy vs Lucas Herbert
- Kurt Kitayama vs Andrew Putnam
- Cameron Young vs Billy Horschell