Scheffler, McIlroy among the unbeaten after second round of WGC Match Play

By Sports Desk March 23, 2023

Defending champion Scottie Scheffler got off to a great start at the WGC Match Play, remaining perfect through his first two round-robin matchups after defeating Alex Noren on Thursday.

Scheffler, the world number one, has shown a great affinity for the match play format, finishing runner-up to Billy Horschel in 2021 before knocking off Kevin Kisner in last season's final.

After sneaking past Davis Riley to open his week, Scheffler put his foot down against Noren, draining six birdies over the course of eight holes to run away with it.

Scheffler will advance as the winner of Group 1 with a win or tie against Tom Kim on Friday, while Rory McIlroy also has one foot in the knockout stage after his win against Denny McCarthy, with only Keegan Bradley standing in the way of the Northern Irishman completing a perfect Group 3 sweep.

Max Homa is sitting pretty as the only 2-0-0 competitor in Group 5 after getting the better of three-time finalist Kevin Kisner, meaning he will face Hideki Matsuyama for a chance to seal his path into the last-16.

Tony Finau moved to 2-0-0 in Group 2 with a convincing triumph over Adrian Meronk, while Jason Day beat Victor Perez to take a 2-0-0 record into his tantalising Group 9 clash against the 1-0-1 Collin Morikawa. The loser will be heading home.

Group 2 is up for grabs as Jon Rahm (1-1-0) needs to defeat Horschel (1-0-1) to give himself and Rickie Fowler (1-1-0) a chance to advance, while Jordan Spieth blew a late lead to hand control over Group 12 to Taylor Montgomery.

Xander Schauffele, J.T Poston, Kim Si-woo, Sam Burns, Cameron Young, Andrew Putnam, J.J. Spaun and Lucas Herbert are all unbeaten heading into Friday's final round of group play.

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    “I feel like I just know how to play the golf course. I feel like I’ve figured it out.”

    Skinns hit five birdies without a blemish while Lowry mixed six birdies with a bogey.

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    Rory McIlroy, who started the day tied with Lowry and Skinns, dropped six shots off the pace with a 72.

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    Northern Irishman McIlroy is among eight players tied for sixth place, alongside Ireland’s Shane Lowry and England’s David Skinns, after hitting six birdies and two bogeys on Friday.

    McIlroy said that while he “didn’t get off to the greatest of starts”, he bounced back to finish strongly.

    “I think it is just one of those courses where you have just got to stay super patient, knowing that the scoring is good, but people aren’t going to get away from you here,” he said.

    “I think I did a good job of staying patient until the end and that patience was rewarded.”

    Lowry has also posted consecutive scores of 67, while world number 278 Skinns, who is without a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour, posted a two-under-par 69 following his opening-day 65.

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