Not a single top seed has made it to the third round at Dove Mountain as the event proves to be just as wide open as many expected with the final 16 players ready to face off in the desert again on Friday.
Many brackets have been left in shambles with all the upsets, but mine isn’t that bad with three of my final four still standing including my pre-tournament champion. Rory McIlroy was the first of my four to drop falling to Harris English on Thursday. McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, and Justin Rose all join fellow top-seed Zach Johnson on the sidelines as a trio of eight seeds, two fours, two fives, three two’s, two three’s, and two fourteen’s are left standing.
Here are my picks and previews for Friday’s round 3:
(5) Webb Simpson vs (8) Louis Oosthuizen: Simpson’s steady form and fast starts have carried him this far as he looks to make a deep run in the Tournament. He’ll face Oosthuizen who knocked out Henrik Stenson yesterday but hasn’t ever made it this far in his four previous events. Pick: Webb Simpson
(2) Jason Day vs (14) George Coetzee: Day is my pick to win it all, and I’m still confident despite a 22-hole scare yesterday. The narrow win over Billy Horschel improved his record to 10-3 at this event as he takes on another hot golfer in South African George Coetzee. Coetzee also played extra holes (21) yesterday taking out Patrick Reed, but Day’s history here is too good to pass up. Pick: Jason Day
(5) Jim Furyk vs (9) Harris English: Both of these players are great shot-makers and this should be a great match to watch. English looked great knocking off Rory McIlroy in 19 holes, and I think he’ll be able to beat Furyk in the third round. Furyk hasn’t played a lot of golf this season which I think gives English a slight advantage. Pick: Harris English
(2) Sergio Garcia vs (14) Rickie Fowler: Fowler has been the biggest surprise at the tournament knocking off Ian Poulter and Jimmy Walker to set up this match with Sergio. Fowler seems to have rediscovered his form and Garcia hasn’t been extremely dominant in his two wins. Let the run continue! Pick: Rickie Fowler
(4) Jason Dufner vs (8) Ernie Els: I picked against both these golfers in the first round, but they’ve been able to advance despite not playing their best. Els hasn’t really been pushed and has been able to advance despite 10 bogeys in the first two rounds. Dufner has had his ups and downs as well and has not fared well in this event in the past. I really don’t have confidence in either of them and think whoever wins will be taken out in the next round especially based on who is on the other side of this bracket. Pick: Jason Dufner
(2) Matt Kuchar vs (3) Jordan Spieth: Spieth has been as sharp as anyone in the tournament this week with a pair of solid wins over international competition in Pablo Larrazabal and Thomas Bjorn. Now, though, he’ll face Matt Kuchar in the best match of the day. Kuchar won the event last season and has been as steady and business-like as ever picking up a pair of wins. Of all the matches, this is the one I’ll follow the closest, but I can’t pick against Spieth’s form right now and think he can pull the upset since he won’t be intimidated by Kuchar’s experience. Pick: Jordan Spieth
(4) Graeme McDowell vs (8) Hunter Mahan: Both these players have had Match Play success in the past in Europe and the US. The two famously met in the 2010 Ryder Cup where McDowell got the win in an epic match. Mahan can get some measure of revenge on this course which he’s excelled on. After a runner-up defense of his 2012 title, I have him in my final four and think he can beat McDowell who has made it this far with a pair of amazing comebacks. Pick: Hunter Mahan
(3) Bubba Watson vs (7) Victor Dubuisson: The young Frenchman is making a splash at Dove Mountain and now gets to take on his first big-name opponent as he faces Bubba Watson. Watson is coming off a win last week and a runner-up finish earlier this season, so his form is definitely good. After knocking off Jonas Blixt in the last round, Watson now looks to get another win and keep his momentum rolling. Dubuisson has the tools to pull the upset, but I think Bubba makes it to Saturday where he’ll face either of two tough opponents. Pick: Bubba Watson