Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy advanced to the knockout stage, Jon Rahm failed to join them and Kurt Kitayama and Mackenzie Hughes won playoffs on Friday at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas.
On the third and final day of the group stage, Scheffler andMcIlroy were among 12 of the 16 group winners to finish with a perfect 3-0-0 mark. Scheffler, the event's defending champion, beat Tom Kim of South Korea 3-and-2 to win Group 1. McIlroy of Northern Ireland beat Keegan Bradley by the same score to lock up Group 3.
"I'm not overthinking things," Scheffler said. "I haven't thought about last year once this week. Just glad to get through my group and focus on (Saturday)."
Sixty-four players began the event at Austin Country Club in 16 round-robin groups. Each golfer played a match against the other three in the group, and only the winner moved on to the 16-man, single-elimination knockout stage that begins Saturday.
Joining No. 1 seed Scheffler and No. 3 McIlroy in the bracket are No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, No. 5 Max Homa, No. 6 Xander Schauffele, No. 13 Sam Burns, No. 15 Cam Young, No. 19 Kitayama, No. 22 Billy Horschel, No. 32 Jason Day of Australia, No. 43 J.T. Poston, No. 46 Lucas Herbert of Australia, No. 50 Hughes of Canada, No. 56 Andrew Putnam, No. 59 Matt Kuchar and No. 61 J.J. Spaun.
Group 10 concluded with a three-way tie at 2-1-0 featuring Kitayama, Tony Finau and Poland's Adrian Meronk. The ensuing playoff began at the par-4 first hole, where Finau committed a double bogey to drop out and Kitayama and Meronk advanced with pars. At the par-4 second, Kitayama made birdie and Meronk couldn't match it.
"I just haven't really been in a playoff like that, winner goes on type of thing," said Kitayama, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this month for his first PGA Tour title. "So whenever you get uncomfortable like that, you try and go back on the things that help you gain a little more comfortability."
It was a similar story in Group 12, where Hughes and Taylor Montgomery tied at 2-1-0 after Montgomery beat Hughes 6-and-4 in Friday's scheduled match. Hughes got revenge by birdieing the first playoff hole while Montgomery bogeyed.
Horschel blitzed No. 2 seed Rahm 5-and-4 to finish Group 2 action 2-0-1. That was enough to beat Rickie Fowler, who finished that group 2-1-0, and Rahm, who had lost to Fowler as well as Horschel.
Kuchar, the oldest player in the field at 44, dominated Si Woo Kim of South Korea 7-and-6 Friday. That not only allowed Kuchar to lock up Group 8 at 2-0-1, but also marked his 36th match victory at the WGC-Match Play, tying Tiger Woods' tournament record.
"There's 300 more records, I'm sure, to go," Kuchar said, "but it's a fun one to be able to say you've kind of got something you tied Tiger with."
Homa advanced when Hideki Matsuyama of Japan conceded their Friday match, withdrawing with a neck injury.
The knockout stage will begin Saturday with the Round of 16:
--Scottie Scheffler vs. J.T. Poston
--Jason Day vs. Matt Kuchar
--Max Homa vs. Mackenzie Hughes
--Sam Burns vs. Patrick Cantlay
--Billy Horschel vs. Cam Young
--Kurt Kitayama vs. Andrew Putnam
--Xander Schauffele vs. J.J. Spaun
--Rory McIlroy vs. Lucas Herbert
--Field Level Media