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The world’s best players are all in Austin, Texas, for a unique stop on the men’s professional golf schedule.
Austin Country Club plays host to the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play once again this week. With the top-12 players in the Golfweek/Sagarin men’s ranking, as well as 64 of the top 69 in the Official World Golf Ranking set to compete, there are some matches each day that stand out among the rest.
Thursday’s slate features a bout between former Cal Bear stars and winners on Tour this year, two tantrum-prone players squaring off as well as the defending champion against one of the hottest players in the game.
Check out these seven second-day matches in Austin.
Joaquin Niemann vs. Bubba Watson
Niemann makes his Match Play debut this week in Austin, earning half a point with a tie against Christiaan Bezuidenhout on Wednesday. What's his reward for a hard-fought match? A meeting with Bubba Watson, the two-time WGC champion at the 2014 HSBC Champions and 2018 Match Play.
Joaquin Niemann lines up a putt on the sixth green in his match against Christiaan Bezuidenhout during the first round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 24, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Matthew Wolff vs. Jordan Spieth
Does this one even need explaining? Spieth is on a tear this season, with three top-five finishes in his last five starts. Wolff has been struggling with an injury, but the winner of the 2019 3M Open and still defending NCAA champion beat Corey Conners 3 and 1 on Wednesday.
Jordan Spieth watches his shot during the first day of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club. (Photo: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports)
Justin Thomas vs. Kevin Kisner
The Match Play defending champion from 2019, Kisner took care of Louis Oosthuizen 2 and &1 in the opening round, while Thomas, recent winner of the Players Championship, lost 3 and 2 to Matt Kuchar.
Justin Thomas catches a ball from his caddie on the fifth hole during a first round match at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Tony Finau vs. Will Zalatoris
Tony Finau announced his presence with authority on Wednesday, rolling Dylan Frittelli 6 and 5 to set the tone for Group 12. Zalatoris has performed well all season, making 12 cuts in 13 events, with 10 top-25 finishes, five inside the top 10. Showtime.
Will Zalatoris plays a shot from a bunker on the second hole during the third round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. (Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
Collin Morikawa vs. Max Homa
Last month Max Homa won the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. The next week, Collin Morikawa followed suit at the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship at The Concession. Separated by just a few years, both were standout players for the Cal Bears. Homa won the individual title at the 2013 NCAA Championship for the Bears, while Morikawa won six times during his time at Cal, including the 2019 Pac-12 Championship.
Collin Morikawa hits his tee shot during the first day of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club. (Photo: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports)
Tyrrell Hatton vs. Sergio Garcia
The European Ryder Cup teammates both have thrown their fair share of temper tantrums on the course, and with the unpredictability of Match Play, who knows what may happen. Garcia, who recently finished T-9 at the Players Championship, has earned 20 top 10s in 61 WGC appearances. In three previous WGC Match Play appearances, Hatton has finished T-17, as well as consecutive top-10 finishes in 2018 and 2019.
Tyrrell Hatton and Sergio Garcia sign autographs during a Ryder Cup practice round at Le Golf National. (Photo: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)
Xander Schauffele vs. Jason Day
The top-seed in Group 6 and winner of the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions, Schauffele tied Andy Sullivan on Wednesday, making his bout with two-time Match Play winner Jason Day (2014 and 2016) all the more important. Scottie Scheffler defeated Day 2 up on Wednesday.
Xander Schauffele hits his tee shot on the 9th hole during the first round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. (Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)