Phil Mickelson

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

The winds were up at Austin Country Club on Friday, but the horns were down. All three former Texas players in the field failed to make the weekend matches at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Jhonattan Vegas and Dylan Frittelli had already been eliminated before Friday’s matches began. Jordan Spieth, the most successful professional player of the three, played in a win-and-advance match with Patrick Reed.

Spieth’s head-to-head bout with Reed drew the largest gallery of any match through the first three days of competition. Most of them supported Spieth, but they went home unhappy when Reed beat the fan favorite 2 & 1 with a clutch birdie putt from behind the green on the par-3 17th.

Spieth’s gone, but he’s not alone. Here are four other storylines from pool play at the Dell Match Play:

Defending champion Dustin Johnson strikes out

The No. 1 player in the world cruised to a victory in this event last year, never losing a match all week. This year, Johnson failed to win at all. He went 0-3-0 in a group with Kevin Kisner, Adam Hadwin and Bernd Wiesberger.

It’ll be interesting to see how Johnson fares at the Masters in two weeks. Last year, Johnson withdrew from the Shell Houston Open to rest the week before playing Augusta National only to withdraw from the Masters as well after he fell down a flight of stairs and injured his back.

Big names fail to make the weekend

Many of the games biggest stars will be leaving Austin earlier than they anticipated. In addition to Johnson and Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm were all seeded in the top 10 but failed to make it to Saturday.

Phil Mickelson, who generated crowds that rivaled those of Spieth this week, is also without a Saturday tee time despite winning his match on Friday. For those not playing next weekend in Houston, this was a final tune-up for the Masters. Mickelson, however, will ride into H-Town having played better on days two and three in Austin than he did on Day 1.

“It feels good to come back and win these last two matches, even though I’m not advancing,” Mickelson said. “But it goes back to the first day. You need to be ready to play from Day 1, because the opportunity to be eliminated is there.”

Matt Kuchar fires an ace at No. 7

Last year, Hideto Tanihara hit a hole in one on No. 7 in the consolation round on Sunday. Plenty of players have had much worse fortunes attacking that pin this year. Many have left their tee shots short during all three days of play, making for a tough pitch out of the sand.

Not Matt Kuchar.

He took advice from his own Skechers commercial, in which he says, “I find the best place to position your drive is at the bottom of the cup.”

It took awhile for the ball to roll in from the center of the green, but Kuchar’s tee shot eventually dropped in the hole, causing a roar to shake the grounds at ACC.

“When I hit the ball, I knew it was a good line and had potential to be close for a good-looking birdie,” Kuchar said. “As it kept rolling, it kept getting closer and closer and finally it disappeared. And it was fun to be up at elevation and see the ball the entire way and see it disappear. That's always a special thing in the game of golf.”

Sweet 16 matchups and tee times

Both the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals will be played on Saturday. Here are the eight matches slated to get the day started on Day 4 of the Dell Match Play.

(16) Matt Kuchar vs. (32) Kevin Kisner

(58) Ian Poulter vs. (25) Louis Oosthuizen

(46) Cameron Smith vs. (12) Tyrrell Hatton

(13) Alex Noren vs. (19) Patrick Reed

(2) Justin Thomas vs. (50) Si Woo Kim

(45) Kyle Stanley vs. (7) Sergio Garcia

(18) Brian Harman vs. (35) Bubba Watson

(59) Charles Howell III vs. (28) Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Europe claims third straight Ryder Cup over the Americans

As the United States headed into the final round for the Ryder Cup today, it trailed Europe, 10-6.

However, despite a push from the Americans, Europe came out with its third straight Ryder Cup win.

Friday morning marked first matchup occurred between U.S. rookies Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth as they were paired up against Gallacher and Ian Poulter.  Though, it came as a shock, that the rookies upset the Europeans.  For Poulter, this was the worst loss of his Ryder Cup career. 

Also for the Americans, veterans Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley went out and beat Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

Things were looking good for the U.S. as it led after the morning, 2.5-1.5.  However, U.S. captain Tom Watson decided to sit the hot young stars and put his trust in Mickelson and Bradley. 

That afternoon, the U.S. could not slow down the Europeans as they won 3.5-.5, ending the day with a 5-3 lead.

The U.S. led Saturday morning 2.5-1.5, cutting the European lead, 6.5-5.5.  Europe, once again, gained control in the afternoon, leading 3.5-.5. And, on Sunday, Watson put the trust in the rookies and Rickie Fowler sidelining Mickelson, Bradley, and Webb Simpson.

However, Sunday marked another win for Europe.  McIlroy earned the first point for Europe as he defeated Fowler to extend the lead 11-6.  After that, the Europeans cruised to victory.  Graeme McDowell came back to defeat Spieth, while Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson. 

The final blow to the U.S. came when Jamie Donaldson hit a 9-iron just 2 feet short on the 15th hole.  Europe finished with a score of 16.5-11.5.  Not only did Europe win its third straight Ryder Cup, they also won it for the 8th time out of the last 10 events.

Antler spray and a record setting day

We are just beyond a month into the New Year, and with five tournaments into the 2013 FedEx Cup season, we have already have had interesting moments in the world of professional golf. These past couple of weeks alone saw moments varying from the bizarre off the course to the historically impressive on the course. About a week after his admission to using deer antler spray which apparently contains a substance banned by the PGA, Vijay Singh had a scheduled meeting with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Fenchem on Wednesday over possible sanctions against Singh for using the banned substance IGF-3 which is similar to human growth hormone, or HGH.  Singh had admitted that he had been using deer antler spray openly and frequently since last November, but had no knowledge whatsoever that it contained any banned substance of any kind and that he even read the ingredients when he first received the spray to make sure there were not any substances he was not allowed to use. Singh is still listed to compete in this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am despite withdrawing from the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week due to back problems.

Lefty’s Back

 On the actual golf course, history was almost made last week during the Phoenix Open by a name many have come to be familiar with over the past decade. Phil Mickelson could not do wrong at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona last week as he came only within two shots of the PGA Tour record of 254 set in the 2003 Texas Open by Tommy Armour III. Mickelson shot a 256 to finish with a score of 28 under par which was good enough to earn him the victory by a margin of four strokes over runner up Brandt Snedecker. Phil rode a phenomenal opening round, posting an 11-under par score of 60 after missing his final birdie putt of the round which would have ended the round with a 59, a feat which has only been achieved by five players on the PGA tour. Mickelson launched himself comfortably into the lead where he never looked back scoring a 6-under par in round two followed by a 7-under par and closing the tournament out with a 4-under par making it a closer affair than what was expected after the round one performance.  This victory marked Mickelson’s 41st PGA victory of his career, putting him in sole position of ninth place in the all-time list of PGA victories with four victories needed to tie Walter Hagen for the eight spot.  This was also just Mickelson’s first victory since his lone 2012 victory in last year’s edition of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am held on Feb. 12, 2012, the same title he looks to defend this upcoming week.

Upcoming : AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

If Phil Mickelson is able to keep the ball rolling going into this week, he looks like a sure shot to win back to back tournaments for the first time since April of 2006, where the latter was his second of three Masters championships. Mickelson is also the defending victor of the Pro-Am held annually at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California. Dustin Johnson, winner of this season’s first event is also a favorite coming in to the tournament along with back to back runner up Brandt Snedecker who will be looking to get his first Tour victory of the season and is currently in the top spot of the FedEx Cup standings thanks to finishing in the top three in three of this young season’s first five tournaments.

FedEx Cup Standings

Brandt Snedecker, out of Nashville, Tennessee currently sits atop the FedEx Cup standings with 782 points despite being the only top five player to have yet won a tournament. Brian Gay (Humana Challenge victor) stands at second and 200 points back. Mickelson is in the third spot at 236 points behind the leader. Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner Dustin Johnson is in fourth place and 266 points behind Snedecker and one point ahead of Russel Henley (Sony Open Champion) who closes out the top five. Tiger Woods is on the outside looking into the top five at seventh place and the only winner of a 2013 PGA tournament not in the top five.

Antler spray and a record-setting day among biggest headlines in pro golf

We are just past a month into the new year and five tournaments into the 2013 FedEx Cup season, and we have already had interesting moments in the world of professional golf. These past couple of weeks alone saw moments varying from bizarre, off-the-course drama to historically impressive play. About a week after his admission to using deer antler spray, which apparently contains a substance banned by the PGA, Vijay Singh had a meeting with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem on Wednesday over possible sanctions for using the banned substance IGF-1, which is similar to human growth hormone. Singh admitted that he had been using deer antler spray openly and frequently since last November, but had no knowledge that it contained any banned substance. He said he even read the ingredients when he first received the spray to make sure there were not any substances he was not allowed to use. Singh is listed to compete in this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am despite withdrawing from the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week due to back problems.

Lefty’s Back

On the actual golf course, history was almost made last week during the Phoenix Open by a name many have come to be familiar with over the past decade. Phil Mickelson could not do wrong at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona, as he was just two shots off the PGA Tour record of 254, set in the 2003 Texas Open by Tommy Armour III. Mickelson shot a 256, to finish with a score of 28-under-par, which was good enough to earn him the victory by a margin of four strokes over runner up Brandt Snedecker. Mickelson rode a phenomenal opening round, posting an 11-under-par score of 60 after just missing a birdie putt on the final hole of the round. Sinking that putt would have given him a 59, a feat which has only been achieved by five players on the PGA tour. Mickelson launched himself comfortably into the lead and he never looked back, scoring a six-under-par in round two, followed by a seven-under-par. He closed the tournament out with a four-under-par, making it a closer affair than what was expected after his first round performance. This victory marked Mickelson’s 41st PGA victory, putting him in sole position of ninth place in the all-time list of PGA victories, with four victories needed to tie Walter Hagen for the eighth spot. This was also Mickelson’s first victory since his lone 2012 win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the same title he looks to defend this upcoming week.

Upcoming : AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

If Phil Mickelson is able to keep the ball rolling going into this week, he looks like a sure shot to win back-to-back tournaments for the first time since April of 2006, when he won his second of three Masters championships. Mickelson is also the defending victor of the Pro-Am, held annually at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California. Dustin Johnson, winner of this season’s first event, is also a favorite coming into the tournament. Snedecker will be looking to get his first tour victory of the season after finishing in the top three spots in three of this season’s first five tournaments.

FedEx Cup Standings

Snedecker currently sits atop the FedEx Cup standings with 782 points, despite being the only top five player to have yet won a tournament. Human Challenge victor Brian Gay stands at second and 200 points back. Mickelson is in the third spot at 236 points behind the leader. Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner Dustin Johnson is in fourth place, 266 points behind Snedecker and one point ahead of Sony Open winner Russell Henley. Tiger Woods, currently in seventh place, is the only winner of a 2013 PGA tournament not in the top five.