The bracket is set, and the matches are underway. Here’s a look at how the drama unfolded during the opening day at Austin Country Club, where all 64 players teed it up in the first of three group-stage matches:
(1) Dustin Johnson def. (55) Chez Reavie, 4 and 3: The top seed played to his ranking in the opening match, cruising against the veteran Reavie. Johnson won the opening hole, never trailed and very much seemed like the guy that steamrolled through the bracket en route to winning this event in 2017.
(40) Branden Grace def. (24) Hideki Matsuyama, 4 and 3: This matchup of former Presidents Cup teammates went to the South African, as Grace won the first two holes with par to set the tone. While Matsuyama tied things up after five holes, Grace won the next two and maintained at least a 2-up advantage the rest of the way.
(2) Justin Rose def. (53) Emiliano Grillo, 2 and 1: Rose was the better player in this match, with birdies on three of his first six holes and having led almost the entire way. Grillo won a pair of holes late, but in the end it only made the margin a little more respectable in a match where Rose always seemed in position to take home a full point.
(22) Gary Woodland def. (34) Eddie Pepperell, 2 and 1: Woodland won three of the first six holes and appeared in position for an easy win, but Pepperell took the next two and actually took a 1-up lead through 11. But Woodland got back on track shortly thereafter, winning Nos. 12, 13 and 15 to move back in control of a back-and-forth contest.
(3) Brooks Koepka vs. (60) Tom Lewis, tied: This was the biggest surprise of the early matches, as the reigning PGA and U.S. Open champ wasn’t able to shake a player with just two European Tour wins to his credit. Lewis trailed the entire front nine before tying Koepka with a birdie on No. 10, and just as it seemed like Koepka would eke out a full point it was Lewis who stuffed his final approach and rolled in a 4-footer for birdie to steal half a point.
(36) Haotong Li def. (27) Alex Noren, 5 and 4: Li went a disappointing 0-3 at this event last year, but he got off to a much different start this time around by quickly dispatching with Noren. Li won the first two holes without making a par and carried a 4-up advantage to the back nine en route to an easy point as Noren’s recent struggles continued.
(4) Rory McIlroy def. (64) Luke List, 5 and 4: The last player in the field didn’t put up much of a fight against perhaps the hottest player in the world, as McIlroy made quick work of the long-hitting American. Nursing a 2-up advantage, McIlroy won three holes from Nos. 11-14 to turn an otherwise close match into an easy point for the reigning Players champ.
(47) Justin Harding def. (32) Matthew Fitzpatrick, 1 up: Harding is making his first appearance in this event, but he’s already on the board after rallying to beat the former Ryder Cupper. Fitzpatrick was 2 up through 15 before Harding won each of the final three holes, including a par on No. 18 which was good enough for the win after Fitzpatrick flew the green and couldn’t get up and down for par.
(50) Lucas Bjerregaard def. (5) Justin Thomas, 3 and 2: The Dane got the better of the highly-ranked Thomas, who added to the short list of top seeds to begin group play 0-1. Bjerregaard took his first lead on the seventh hole and didn’t let up from there, pushing his advantage to 4 up through 14 before Thomas found a way to extend the match.
(33) Matt Wallace def. (31) Keegan Bradley, 1 up: The closest match in terms of seeding lived up to its billing, as Wallace edged out Bradley in a match that went the distance. The Englishman trailed for only one hole and held a 2-up lead through 16 holes, and while Bradley drew closer with a birdie on No. 17 Wallace needed only a par on the home hole to put the match away.
(6) Bryson DeChambeau def. (59) Russell Knox, 3 and 1: DeChambeau authored one of the highlights of the week with his remarkable up-and-down from the vegetation on the short fourth hole that kept the match tied. Knox was 1 up through nine holes but lost each of the next two, as DeChambeau continued some steady play and turned the match with a birdie on the par-5 16th.
(17) Marc Leishman def. (39) Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 2 up: This was the first match of the week to go the distance, as neither player trailed by more than a hole until Leishman took a 2-up lead with a par on No. 16. Aphibarnrat birdied the next hole to extend the match, but in the end it’s the Aussie who gets a full point with a key match against DeChambeau still looming on Friday.
(7) Francesco Molinari def. (63) Satoshi Kodaira, 5 and 4: The struggling Kodaira was no match for the reigning Open champ, as Molinari barely broke a sweat in his opening match. Birdies on three of the first five holes gave the Italian an early advantage he would never relinquish, closing things out when Kodaira conceded on the 14th green.
(45) Thorbjorn Olesen def. (21) Webb Simpson, 2 and 1: A match between a pair of Paris participants went to the Dane, as Olesen never trailed in the match. The two men were tied through 14 holes before Olesen took the 15th with a birdie, then closed out the match with a par on No. 17 after Simpson three-putted from the fringe.
(8) Jon Rahm def. (54) Si Woo Kim, 7 and 5: The day’s most lopsided match went to the Spaniard, as Rahm easily dispatched of the former Players champ on a day when Kim didn’t win a single hole. Rahm held a 3-up lead at the turn and won each of the next four holes, closing out Kim before even reaching the 14th tee.
(23) Matt Kuchar def. (43) J.B. Holmes, 3 and 1: Kuchar already has two wins this season, not to mention a Match Play title back in 2013, and he got the upper hand in his opener against Holmes, who won last month at Riviera. Kuchar saved his best for last, turning a match that was tied through 14 holes into a decisive victory thanks to consecutive wins on Nos. 15-17 to end the match.
(9) Xander Schauffele def. (62) Lee Westwood, 1 up: This match went both ways: Schauffele held a 2-up lead through six holes, while Westwood rallied to take a 2-up lead through 12 holes. But the point was decided on the 18th hole, where Westwood sprayed his tee shot into the trees on the right. While he hit a remarkable recovery shot from there, the 10-foot birdie try wouldn’t go as Schauffele sealed a full point with a conceded birdie of his own.
(35) Tyrrell Hatton def. (29) Rafael Cabrera-Bello, 4 and 3: Hatton scored a decisive victory in this match, as the 2018 Ryder Cup participant flashed his match-play mettle on a day when Cabrera-Bello only won one hole. Hatton took three of the first six holes and barely had to break a sweat once the match got to the back nine.
(10) Paul Casey def. (58) Abraham Ancer, 5 and 3: Casey successfully defended his title last week at Innisbrook, and he built upon that momentum by making quick work of Ancer in his opening match. Casey tied the match on No. 6, took a lead on No. 7 and never looked back, winning four holes in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 6-10 to take command.
(42) Charles Howell III def. (25) Cameron Smith, 2 and 1: This was a bit of an upset based on seeding, as Howell won four straight holes from Nos. 13-16 to turn the match in his favor. Smith had a short putt to extend the match on No. 17, but it came up one roll short and Howell subsequently ended things with a 6-footer of his own.
(11) Tommy Fleetwood def. (49) Byeong-Hun An, 3 and 2: The first point of the week went to the former Ryder Cup hero, as An got off to a quick 2-up lead through seven holes but couldn’t hold on. Fleetwood tied the match three holes later, then won three of the next six holes to close out the match and take a step toward advancing to the Round of 16.
(41) Kyle Stanley def. (19) Louis Oosthuizen, 3 and 2: Oosthuizen tied for second last week in Tampa, but he couldn’t keep pace with Stanley in their opening match. Stanley won the opening hole and never trailed, capitalizing on the South African’s struggles as Oosthuizen bogeyed four of seven holes on the back nine.
(52) Jim Furyk def. (12) Jason Day, 2 up: In one of the bigger upsets of the day, Furyk rallied from a 3-down deficit to take a full point from the former world No. 1. Furyk was a runner-up two weeks ago at TPC Sawgrass and won three straight on Nos. 9-11 to even the match, then clinched it on the final hole when Day flubbed a short pitch. It’s a big win for Furyk as he looks to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by the end of the week to earn a last-minute invite to the Masters.
(37) Henrik Stenson def. (20) Phil Mickelson, 2 and 1: Stenson again ended up on top in a match that pitted the two combatants from a memorable final round at the 2016 Open. Mickelson was trailing for the entire match but cut the deficit to 1 down with a birdie on No. 16, only to bounce his tee shot on the par-3 17th off the rocks leading to a quick concession.
(13) Tiger Woods def. (61) Aaron Wise, 3 and 1: This was hardly the best-played match of the day, as both men struggled out of the gate. While Wise won three straight holes on Nos. 9-11 to take a brief lead, it always felt like Woods’ match to lose as he did just enough down the stretch to distance himself from the reigning Rookie of the Year and put a point on the board in his first event appearance since 2013.
(18) Patrick Cantlay vs. (44) Brandt Snedeker, halved: This felt like it was going Snedeker’s way for much of the afternoon, as the veteran built a 3-up lead through 10 holes before Cantlay came roaring back with four straight wins on Nos. 12-15. Facing a rare deficit, Snedeker drove the green on the par-4 18th to set up an easy birdie that let him salvage half a point.
(14) Tony Finau def. (56) Keith Mitchell, 2 and 1: In a match that didn’t lack for firepower off the tee, Finau got a critical point thanks to a pair of late birdies. The match was tied through 14 holes but Finau made his short birdie putt on No. 15 while Mitchell was unable to match. Another birdie on the 16th hole gave Finau his largest lead of the day, and he closed out Mitchell one hole later.
(30) Ian Poulter def. (48) Kevin Kisner, 2 up: This was a rematch from last year’s quarterfinals, with Poulter extracting a bit of revenge. The Englishman led for most of the way before a Kisner eagle on No. 16 tied the match, but Poulter bounced back with a 10-foot birdie make on No. 17 and an 11-footer to close things out on the final hole.
(57) Kevin Na def. (15) Bubba Watson, 1 up: The defending champ took an early loss in surprising fashion, as some bunker blunders gave Na a full point. One week after withdrawing in Tampa because of a neck injury, Na won three straight from Nos. 13-15 to take a 1-up lead. Watson tied the match on the next hole, but after driving it into a greenside bunker on No. 18 he was still in the sand after two splashes and picked up his ball, conceding the match.
(28) Jordan Spieth vs. (38) Billy Horschel, tied: Horschel might feel like he let this one get away, having gotten out to a 3-up lead through six holes and having maintained a 2-up lead with three to play. But Spieth won No. 16 to cut his deficit in half, then birdied No. 18 after Horschel put his tee shot into the trees. It meant that Spieth snagged a half point despite never leading in the match, potentially a morsel of momentum for a player who has struggled mightily this year.
(51) Andrew Putnam def. (16) Patrick Reed, 3 and 2: Reed’s struggles continue, as the reigning Masters champ is still searching for form heading into his title defense. Putnam was the beneficiary on Wednesday, as he never trailed in the match and turned a 1-up lead into a 3-up margin thanks to wins on Nos. 12 and 14 that put Reed on the ropes.
(26) Sergio Garcia def. (46) Shane Lowry, 4 and 2: Believe it or not, this one looked like an even bigger blowout at the halfway point. Garcia raced out to a 5-up lead through 10 holes, and by the time Lowry started winning a couple holes he had run out of time. The Irishman remains in search of the group win(s) that could push him over the edge for a late Masters bid via the OWGR.