Austin power

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Rory McIlroy is fancied to go well this week as he uses the Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club to prepare for next week's 148th Open. (Getty Images)
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Fate of the Top Eight

Dustin Johnson (1-1-0) – DJ couldn't shake off Branden Grace today and his opponent's 38-foot birdie bomb at 17 proved decisive. It's out of DJ's hands now; if Grace beats Chez Reavie, it's goodbye to the 2017 winner.

Justin Rose (1-0-1) – Rose was in a big hole against Eddie Pepperell but, in echoes of Medinah 2012, refused to lie down and won 17 and 18 to escape with a half. Advances with a win over Gary Woodland in Friday's decider.

Brooks Koepka (0-1-1)– Game over. Koepka halved with Tom Lewis yesterday and lost to HaoTong Li (1-up) today. The only one of the top eight seeds to be eliminated after just two days.

Rory McIlroy (2-2-0) – Two eagles in his final five holes finally shook off Justin Harding although Rory did make four bogeys in his 3-and-2 win. Needs to avoid defeat against Matthew Fitzpatrick to guarantee his place in the knockout phase.

Justin Thomas (1-1-0) – Had to beat Matt Wallace to stay alive and did so, securing a 3-and-1 triumph over the Englishman. Group still not in his hands though. A Lucas Bjerregaard win over Wallace eliminates him.

Bryson DeChambeau (1-1-0) – Presuming he'd done his research, DeChambeau would have known that Kiradech Aphibarnrat was a dangerous opponent. And so it proved, the Thai match play expert winning 2-and-1.

Francesco Molinari (2-0-0) – He's pretty good at this format these days. The 5-for-5 Ryder Cup star is now 2-for-2 here after cruising past Thorbjorn Olesen 4-and-3 today. Three birdies and an eagle in the first seven holes and then kept his opponent at arm's length.

Jon Rahm (1-1-0) – An eyeball-popping 6-down after 10 holes against J.B. Holmes after four bogeys and some strong play from his opponent. Rallied with a birdie-burst to cut the deficit to 2-down with four to play but had ultimately left himself too much to do and lost 2-and-1. The good news? It's still in his hands, although only if he beats Matt Kuchar and then wins a Group 8 play-off.

Revised outright betting: 4/1 McIlroy, 15/2 Molinari, 16/1 Garcia, 20/1 Rose, 25/1 Grace, Leishman, Kuchar, Fleetwood, 28/1 Casey, 30/1 Woodland, 33/1 Stenson, Li, Thomas, Schauffele.

Notable Results:

Brandt Snedeker – Got his nose in front against Tiger Woods at the sixth and never relinquished the lead from that point, closing out the three-time winner of this event 2-up.

Billy Horschel – A wire-to-wire winner over Bubba Watson, the 2-and-1 victory ending the left-hander's defense after just two days.

Jordan Spieth – Moved to 1.5 points with a 3-and-2 win over Kevin Na. The change of format seems to be helping. Or is it the thought of Augusta National in two weeks' time?

Jim Furyk – Built on his win over Jason Day with a 1-up victory over Phil Mickelson. Now faces a Group 12 showdown with Henrik Stenson to see who advances from this quartet of major winners.

Sergio Garcia – Yet to see 17 and 18 this week after following his 4-and-2 win over Shane Lowry with a 5-and-4 thumping of Andrew Putnam. Next up is Captain America Patrick Reed. Sergio will top the group by avoiding defeat.

Matt Kuchar – Biggest win of the day (6-and-4). Kuchar actually started his match against Si Woo Kim with a double but took the lead at the 4th and cruised from there. Now for Jon Rahm.

Kevin Kisner – Last year's beaten finalist was 3-down early to Tony Finau but reversed the momentum and won 2-up to stay in the tournament.

Keith Mitchell – Never more than a hole between them but it was the Honda Classic winner who stayed firm to take the notable scalp of Ian Poulter. It's 1-1-0 for all four players in Group 14.

Perfect (2-0-0) so farBranden Grace, Gary Woodland, HaoTong Li, Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Francesco Molinari, Matt Kuchar, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia.

Notes: Gary Woodland and HaoTong Li are the only players with a 2-0-0 record who haven't played in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.

Now eliminatedHideki Matsuyama, Chez Reavie, Eddie Pepperell, Emiliano Grillo, Brooks Koepka, Tom Lewis, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Knox, Webb Simpson, Satoshi Kodaira, Si Woo Kim, Cameron Smith, Byeong Hun An, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Aaron Wise, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry, Patrick Reed

Friday weather forecast

A cloudy day, with the sun sneaking through in the afternoon. Temps rise from the mid-60s to the high-70s while winds will blow at a steady 10mph from midday.

Quotes

Jim Furyk – "I enjoy the format. I enjoy this golf course as well. My short game yesterday left a little to be desired. I tightened things up today with it, hit a bunch of great pitch shots and gave myself some good opportunities. So far things have kind of bounced my way and gone my way."

Brandt Snedeker – "They were all pulling for Tiger - I don't blame them, I am too 100% of the time, except for today. To be honest, I think my own kids were pulling for him."

Matt Kuchar – "It's been good, steady golf. Finding fairways, greens. Make a good number of ten-footers, one or two for saves, one or two for birdies and that certainly helps."

Sergio Garcia – "Obviously I'm feeling better with my game than I did the last couple of weeks. I did find a little something last time in Tampa. I got off to a good start, tough conditions, so as soon as I got up I just kept hitting good shots. That put a lot of pressure on Andrew."

Keith Mitchell – "He's known for being one of the best match play players of all time and I think he'll go down in history as one of those so it's nice to play against a guy that good and to come out on top is even better."

Road to Victory at Austin CC – the group stages

Jason Day, 2016 – Won all three groups matches (3-and-2, 5-and-3, concession)

Dustin Johnson, 2017 – Won all three group matches (5-and-3, 3-and-2, 5-and-3)

Bubba Watson, 2018 – Won his first two matches (5-and-3, 3-and-2), halved his third

Focus on – Meaningless matches

The dynamics of the 16 four-man groups mean that no-one is yet through to the last 16 but 19 players will return to Austin Country Club tomorrow already eliminated and perhaps wishing they were elsewhere. That's the downside of this format although it's hard to think of a way out of it given that one of the selling points is that every player gets to tee it up three times. One smart move this year is to put the meaningless matches out first tomorrow. A shame that Masters marker Jeff Knox can't get involved somehow.

Focus on – Parity

We noted in the preview that, in the three years at Austin Country Club, higher seeds were finding it tougher each year to justify their status.

2016: Matches won by higher seed 58%, by lower seed 27%, tied 15%
2017: Matches won by higher seed 52%, by lower seed 39%, tied 9%
2018: Matches won by higher seed 46%, by lower seed 43%, tied 11%

The win rate had dropped to just 46% last year so what are we seeing so far in 2019?

2019

Round 1: Matches won by higher seed 50%, by lower seed 41%, tied 9%
Round 2: Matches won by higher seed 34%, by lower seed 38%, tied 28%
Overall: Matches won by higher seed 44%, by lower seed 39%, tied 18%

Notes: Yep, it's getting even harder! Just 34% of matches were won by the higher seed in round two.