WGC Match Play: Richard Bland eyeing first Masters invite | Seamus Power revival seals Augusta spot | Golf News

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Richard Bland defeated Lee Westwood to secure his place in the last 16 and put himself on the brink of securing a top-50 world ranking; Seamus Power has already secured that and a maiden Masters invite after turning around his form in the past year

Last Updated: 26/03/22 12:04am


Richard Bland defeats Lee Westwood to progress to a playoff game against Dustin Johnson at the WGC Match Play.

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Richard Bland defeats Lee Westwood to progress to a playoff game against Dustin Johnson at the WGC Match Play.

Richard Bland defeats Lee Westwood to progress to a playoff game against Dustin Johnson at the WGC Match Play.

Richard Bland is on the verge of securing a Masters debut at the age of 49 after reaching the last 16 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Bland beat 48-year-old Lee Westwood 2 and 1 to top Group 9 and secure a place in the knock-out stages at Austin Country Club.

The Englishman will now face former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson in the last 16 and a strong showing this weekend could see him move into the world top 50 ahead of Monday’s deadline to earn an invite to Augusta National for the first major of the year.

Richard Bland reflects on his win over Lee Westwood to progress into a playoff against Dustin Johnson.

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Richard Bland reflects on his win over Lee Westwood to progress into a playoff against Dustin Johnson.

Richard Bland reflects on his win over Lee Westwood to progress into a playoff against Dustin Johnson.

“I need the afternoon off,” Bland said. “Me and Lee joked that whoever just finishes probably wins.

“I’ve known Lee a long time, he’s a legend of the sport and to be able to go head-to-head with him and get one over him was pretty special.

“It’s 18 holes but if I play the way I know I can play [Johnson has] got a game on his hands.”

Earlier in the day, defending champion Billy Horschel produced a grandstand finish to become the first player into the last 16.

Defending champion Billy Horschel is through to the knock-on stages

Defending champion Billy Horschel is through to the knock-on stages

Thomas Pieters was two up with two holes to play against Horschel and seemingly on course to secure the win which would set up a play-off between the pair to decide the winner of Group 12.

However, Horschel made a birdie on the 17th and conceded another on the last after Pieters missed from close range for his own birdie.

“Thomas came to play today, and he played a beautiful round of golf,” Horschel said. “I’m going to guess he probably shot four, five under maybe, didn’t make a bogey at all.

“I played really solid except for two holes where I hit a pitching wedge in the water on three, which is just a bad, bad swing, and then another bad swing at 13 with a three iron off the tee just trying to put it in the fairway.

Xander Schauffele loses his ball down a wooden crack on his approach to the par-5 12th at the WGC World Matchplay.

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Xander Schauffele loses his ball down a wooden crack on his approach to the par-5 12th at the WGC World Matchplay.

Xander Schauffele loses his ball down a wooden crack on his approach to the par-5 12th at the WGC World Matchplay.

“But other than that, I hung in there. I hit some really quality shots. Being two down with two to go and knowing all I needed was a half to move on to the round of 16, that’s a real confidence boost to birdie the last two to get through.”

Horschel will face Scottie Scheffler in the knockout stages in a rematch of last year’s final after Scheffler defeated Matt Fitzpatrick on the sixth hole of a sudden-death play-offs.

Scheffler’s 5 and 4 victory over Fitzpatrick left the pair tied on two points at the top of Group 5. After waiting for more than two and a half hours for the remaining matches to tee off, they began by making birdies on the first hole.

Both players also birdied the fifth before Scheffler made another birdie on the par-five sixth to advance.

Scottie Scheffler managed to get the best of Matt Fitzpatrick with this sudden death winner at the WGC World Matchplay.

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Scottie Scheffler managed to get the best of Matt Fitzpatrick with this sudden death winner at the WGC World Matchplay.

Scottie Scheffler managed to get the best of Matt Fitzpatrick with this sudden death winner at the WGC World Matchplay.

Tommy Fleetwood could have made it a three-man play-off with a victory over Ian Poulter but lost 4 and 3 to his Ryder Cup team-mate.

World No. 1 Jon Rahm won Group 1 despite losing to Patrick Reed and will face Brooks Koepka in the last 16 after the four-time major winner beat Shane Lowry on the last to maintain his 100 per cent record.

Tyrrell Hatton made it three wins from three matches with a hard-fought victory over Daniel Berger and will face Ireland’s Seamus Power in the last 16.

Power revival seals maiden Masters spot

A year after being ranked outside the world’s top 450, Power solidified his place inside the top 50 to earn a maiden Masters appearance.

Power lost his final group game in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play against Keith Mitchell, but Patrick Cantlay’s victory over Sungjae Im ensured Powerstill topped group four after previous wins over Cantlay and Im.

That means the 35-year-old from Waterford will take on England’s Hatton when the knock-out stages begin, secure in the knowledge he will be receiving an invite to the year’s first major.

This time last year Power was bouncing between second-tier Korn Ferry Tour events and the PGA Tour before enjoying his breakthrough win in the Barbasol Championship in July.

Seamus Power continued his revival to reach the Match Play last 16

Seamus Power continued his revival to reach the Match Play last 16

“Obviously my golf has improved, that’s what’s changed,” Power said. “Things don’t quite seem as hard on the golf course.

“I kind of had to get some stuff figured out with my game and I was able to figure that out and make some improvement with wedges and putting and that sort of stuff.

“The margins out here are so small. Even this week obviously the top-ranked guys are favoured to go through, but it’s only like a shot per round maybe they might be better than anyone else.

“Those things are small margins, so if you could just make one less mistake, one less good shot, one less putt or one more putt holed and the whole kind of shape of your career can change.”

WGC Final Sixteen draw

Scottie Scheffler (5) v Billy Horschel (12)

Seamus Power (42) v Tyrrell Hatton (13)

Dustin Johnson (8) v Richard Bland (54)

John Rahm (1) v Brooks Koepka (16)

Kevin Kisner (29) v Adam Scott (32)

Will Zalatoris (24) v Kevin Na (25)

Takumi Kanaya (56) v Corey Conners (36)

Collin Morikawa (2) v Abraham Ancer (15)

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