Johnson faces a major group in Match Play
(AP Photo/Christian Palma)
By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Dustin Johnson has a trio of major champions in his way at the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Johnson is the No. 1 seed for the first time in Match Play, which starts Wednesday at Austin Country Club. The three players assigned to his round-robin group are PGA champion Jimmy Walker, two-time major champion Martin Kaymer and former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.
Groups were determined by pulling one name from each of four 16-man segments based on the world ranking.
Defending champion Jason Day, the No. 3 seed, has Bay Hill winner Marc Leishman in his group. They were the only two Australians in the 64-man field. Rounding out that group is Lee Westwood and Pat Perez.
Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 seed who won two years ago at Harding Park, has Emiliano Grillo, 2015 runner-up Gary Woodland and Soren Kjeldsen. Hideki Matsuyama is the No. 4 seed and has last year's runner-up Louis Oosthuizen, Ross Fisher and Jim Furyk.
Fisher might be able to wrap up a spot in the Masters if the Englishman can advance out of his group.
"I'm happy with that draw," McIlroy said. "I feel like I'm playing well enough. I feel like I can advance from that group and get myself into the weekend."
After round-robin play for three days, 16 players advance to single-elimination, two matches on Saturday and Sunday.
The All-American group starts with Patrick Reed and includes Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner and Jason Dufner.
Jordan Spieth at least won't have to worry about playing a close friend like he did a year ago against Justin Thomas. Instead, he has two Japanese players - Yuta Ikeda and Hideto Tanihara, and Ryder Cup teammate Ryan Moore.
"U.S. Amateur champion and match-play wizard - lovely," Spieth said about Moore, whom he described as "top five of most difficult guys to play."
Moore won the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Public Links Amateur in 2004. He was the final captain's pick for the Ryder Cup last year at Hazeltine and went 2-1, defeating Lee Westwood in the match that clinched victory for the Americans.
Spieth is the local favorite, helping the Texas Longhorns to the NCAA title in 2012. None of his round-robin matches made it to the 18th hole last year, but he lost in the first knockout match and spent the rest of the weekend on the lake.
Day and McIlroy are among just three past champions of this event. The other is Matt Kuchar, who won in Arizona when it was single-elimination.
Sergio Garcia and PGA Tour rookie Jon Rahm give Spain two players in one group.
"The first time I played this event, it was 64 guys, win or go home," Spieth said. "Now it's an opportunity to play more rounds, and fans and the viewing audience get to see the players they want to see play multiple rounds. The draw is the draw. You've got to play well to advance no matter what."
Updated March 20, 2017