The WGC – Dell Match Play: A Saturday of showdowns and re-matches in Texas

A repeat of last year’s final and Jon Rahm versus Brooks Koepka are the highlights of the round of 16 at Austin Country Club.

Down the years the World Golf Championship - Dell Match Play has had an unfortunate habit of throwing up underwhelming renewals.

The volatile nature of the format was something of a handicap in the early years, never more so than when Kevin Sutherland won it from outside the world's top 100 in 2002.

This year eight top seeds emerged from the 16 groups, so a set-up designed to protect the big names only half did its job, but no matter: Saturday is set fine.

No, it's better than that. Saturday could not have been scripted better.

One big-hitting showdown, one tasty rematch, a GB&I head-to-head, and a classic David versus Goliath - and that's just the bottom half of the draw.

No need to put these match-ups in brackets - they're top of the bill.

Let's take a closer look at all eight ties.

1st quarter

Abraham Ancer vs. Collin Morikawa

Both players emerged from their groups unbeaten. Morikawa was shoring up his record in the event after a rough debut last year; he's now 2-2-2 at Austin. Ancer was just maintaining his fine form at the venue - he's now 6-2-1.

Ancer is thriving in the Austin atmosphere. "That was awesome," he said. "I felt like I was playing at home. A lot of Mexicans out there, a lot of people from my hometown. The chants and all the cheers were really special." Morikawa on Ancer: "He's a good player, he makes a lot of putts, he's a great lag putter."

Takumi Kanaya vs. Corey Conners

A superb debut for the young Japanese star (2-1-0) who bested Lucas Herbert in a playoff. Conners had a nightmare debut last year, losing all three matches, but completely reversed that (aided by a concession at the start of one match) to now own a 3-3-0 record at Austin.

Kanaya on match play: "My father tell me when I was young, keep going, keep going, keep trying, don't give up he would say always to me." Asked what he knew of Conners he said: "Corey is, my first time on the PGA Tour, I was amateur in 2019 Sony Open, and I played with him. Maybe he didn't remember me. But, yeah, he's so great."

2nd quarter

Adam Scot vs. Kevin Kisner

Kisner's fondness for the event, but especially Austin CC continues as he defeated all three group opponents. The 2019 winner and 2018 runner-up now has a 19-6-1 record at the layout. Scott is 3-1-2 in Austin after going unbeaten in his group (all of them major winners).

Scott on why it's been a long time since he made the knockout stages: "It's hard to get there when I don't play in the event very often." Kisner on always being the underdog: "That's the way I've been my whole life. I'm 5'10" and 160 pounds; I'm pretty much an underdog out here." He also added this nugget about how Justin Thomas would feel after he beat him: "Oh, he's not worried about it. He's got plenty of money in the bank and I'm not too concerned with his well-being."

Will Zalatoris vs. Kevin Na

Zalatoris is 3-2-1 at Austin, Na 10-8-3. Zalatoris on his putting (generally agreed to be his only weakness): "New putter in the bag this week and couple little changes here and there on the off week. Nice to see it hold up under pressure really in the first week."

3rd quarter

Tyrrell Hatton vs. Seamus Power

Very similar records, just Hatton has been around longer. Power went 2-1-0 on debut in his group, Hatton is now 9-6-2 after winning all three first round ties.

Power revealed they first played together in a practice round two weeks ago (when his caddie found the 17th green with Hatton's club playing left-handed). He added: "It kind of actually restarts to a certain extent. Now it's full knockout. All new to me so it's going to be exciting."

Hatton said: "I hope I play a lot better than I did today. I played nicely yesterday and thought I would get momentum, but things were slightly different and it didn't quite work out. We ground it out. I won't be too stressed out about it."

Scottie Scheffler vs. Billy Horschel

Naturally both have fine records at the venue. Scheffler is 6-2-2, Horschel 10-4-2. A delicious re-match.

Defending champion Horschel on his golf: "Outside it looks like I'm maybe moving a million miles per hour and just all over the place, but inside I'm pretty calm and pretty relaxed. Right now I feel really confident with my game and feel really confident with what I'm doing. I know why I hit bad shots. I know why I hit the good ones."

Scheffler on the re-run of last year's final with Horschel won 2&1: "It'll be a fun match. I haven't had much time to process, but I'm just going to go home and get some rest and prepare for a good fight tomorrow."

4th quarter

Richard Bland vs. Dustin Johnson

What a debut from Bland, especially after he'd looked a bit flustered in his first match. He emerged unbeaten from the first stage (2-0-1) but now faces a match play monster in former tournament winner Johnson (15-8-1 at Austin).

Bland on his fairytale story, winning and playing in elite events at 49: "Someone my age probably shouldn't be doing this for the first time. But I guess there's always the exception to the rule, isn't there? Not necessarily just in golf. You see it in other sports as well. It's just my time. That's all I can put it down to. I don't know why. But I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. I know it's not going to last forever. That's golf. It kicked me when I'm down, so while I'm up I'm going to enjoy it."

Bland on DJ: "He's favorite. That's not being negative or anything like that. That's just realistic. Everybody knows that."

DJ on Bland: "Yeah, I played with him somewhere. I don't know where. I can't remember where."

Jon Rahm vs. Brooks Koepka

The blockbuster. 2017 runner-up Rahm (12-6-3 at Austin) up against fellow big-hitter Brooks Koepka (9-5-1 at Austin),

Rahm on the format: "I feel like you guys are looking too much into this. It's match play. It doesn't make it any different in my mind. I mean, you've just got to go and win it. It's not easier or harder. It's the exact same, at least in my mind."

Koepka on his form: "I've felt good for a while. Unfortunate draw at THE PLAYERS, two solid rounds last week. Been playing good, just really haven't seen the results. This week anything can happen."

READ MORE: Live leaderboard

Latest news