Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler got off to winning starts at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.
The Northern Irishman saw off Scott Stallings 3&1 while Scheffler, the World Number One and defending champion, went the distance to eventually finish 1UP over Davis Riley.
It was an intriguing first day in the 64-man match play event in Austin with two-time DP World Tour winner Min Woo Lee claiming a thriller against Sahith Theegala on the final hole to win 1UP.
Debutants Adrian Meronk and Ryan Fox settled quickly with impressive opening victories as Meronk got the better of Kurt Kitayama 2&1 with birdies at the 16th and 17th, while Fox beat Harris English 2&1.
World Number Two Jon Rahm has a job on his hands to get out of Group 2 after a surprise loss to Rickie Fowler 2&1. Meanwhile, Victor Perez was undone 2&1 by Collin Morikawa in Group 9 where Jason Day, a two-time winner of this event, looked good in a 4&2 victory over Adam Svensson.
Sungjae Im posted the biggest win of the day, 8&6 against Maverick McNealy.
There were also first day wins for Sam Burns, Corey Conners, Tony Finau, Ben Griffin, Lucas Herbert, Si Woo Kim, Tom Kim, Taylor Montgomery, JT Poston, Andrew Putnam, Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott, JJ Spaun, Jordan Spieth, Aaron Wise and Cameron Young.
Rory McIlroy: “Yeah, really good. That’s the main thing this week. Obviously there’s a ton of golf left this season, but to get a little bit of match play in our lives is good and get under pressure.
“There’s a couple of putts on the back nine there that I was actually glad I had the hole. It’s good practice, but at the same time I want to win the match.
“Overall, six birdies, one bogey. It was a pretty decent day and some tricky wind. The course was obviously soft after the rain the last couple days. Happy to get the win and move on to tomorrow.”
Scottie Scheffler: “I didn’t have my best stuff today. Made too many mistakes throughout the round and had some chances to kind of put it away, made a few mistakes, but fortunately made a really nice putt there on 18.”
“Just a few of those mistakes, maybe a few mental errors. And I felt like I hit some good putts and some bad ones today, and the good ones didn’t go in, and the bad ones certainly didn’t go in. I’m going to remember that putt on the last hole and take that energy with me.”
Min Woo Lee: “It was a highlight reel all day. Had two chip-ins, two eagles. Yeah, did a lot. Finished really well, I could have birdied all the last four, and yeah, it kind of sucked to lip out on 15 real hard.
“He had, not momentum, but I hit a bad drive after that, and it seemed like it went to his side, and I’m glad I holed a putt on 17 because if I missed that, he probably would have holed it and I would have lost. It was back and forth all day, and it was such a good match.”
Adrian Meronk: “It was quite stressful. We both played quite good. In order to win the hole, had to hit some great shots, make birdies. It was quite enjoyable and it was very close, but I really enjoyed it.
“I holed a couple of good putts, but I would say my irons were quite solid. My distance control. Overall it was just good balance, so every part of the game was in game. A couple bad shots, bad decisions, but at the end of the day it was just a solid round of golf.”
Ryan Fox: “I played really well. There wasn’t too many fireworks either way really. I think we made a lot of pars, probably both didn’t make a whole lot of putts. I capitalized on a couple of mistakes, one on 12 from Harrison and another one on four.
“I’ve played really solid the last almost 18 months. I feel a bit more comfortable playing in these events, playing against the top guys. Coming over here has always been a bit tough because I’ve kind of only done one week at a time, and I’m in my fourth week over here.”