Billy Horschel has made significant progress in catching Tiger Woods.
Horschel has won seven consecutive matches in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play after a 3-and-2 victory over Tom Hoge in the second round of pool play on Thursday at the windy Austin Country Club in Texas.
Last year’s reigning champion was defeated by J.T. Poston in the second round of pool play, losing 4 to 2. He won the title by winning his last five matches last year and the first two this year.
That puts him six wins short of breaking Woods’ record of 13 consecutive Match Play victories from 2003 to 2005. Woods is also the only player in history to win back-to-back Match Play championships.
“There are some staggering statistics on Tiger’s accomplishments and possessions. Things you can’t imagine, and when you think about 13 straight wins, you don’t think it’s a huge deal, but when you think about it, it’s almost two years of match play without losing,” Horschel said. “There’s nothing I can say about him that hasn’t already been said about him, so if I could keep my hot streak going and win the next five matches, then come back next year and win one match, it would be incredibly nice to have my name next to his.”
In the last round of pool play, Horschel will face Thomas Pieters, who improved to 1-1-0 with a one-up triumph over Min Woo Lee. Horschel took an early lead with a 50-foot birdie putt on the first hole, which he never lost.
“I don’t think I brag enough about myself.” Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion, remarked, “I’m not one of those players that brags about how good he is at what he does.” “I’m a grinder,” she says. Yes, I can make it look lovely on occasion, but I’m quite content to play in the mud and grind it out, plus I’m a fantastic putter inside 10 feet, which is vital in match play. I enjoy the format, and I’m having a lot of success right now.
“I’ve been fortunate in that both of the opponents I’ve played have made blunders.” As a result, I’ve been able to avoid having to do anything particular.”
World No. 1 Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson were among those who improved to 2-0-0. Rahm defeated Cameron Young 5-4, Koepka defeated Harold Varner III 2-1, and Johnson defeated Matthew Wolff 4-2 in the finals.
Johnson stated, “I feel like the game is heading in the correct direction.” “It’s a big week, but it’s the week before the Masters.” It’s starting to feel like a decent game. I’m starting to have a lot more confidence when it comes to striking certain strokes on the golf course.”
Alex Noren also went 2-0-0, winning when Paul Casey conceded for the second day in a row due to back spasms. In the last round of pool play, Noren will face Corey Connors, who defeated Louis Oosthuizen 2 and 1 to improve to 2-0-0.
Lucas Herbert improved to 2-0-0 after defeating Xander Schauffele, 1 up.
“I played a lot of amateur golf with Xander, and I feel like he’s obviously had a faster rise to the PGA Tour and to that top 10 in the world than I did,” Herbert said. “But I felt like we probably had similar games seven or eight years ago, and I feel like I’m getting somewhere near where he is now.” “So I didn’t feel out of place playing against him because I felt like I knew him and had spent some time with him before at events and practices and things like that.”
“I think that was a major advantage for me over playing against someone I hadn’t met before and hadn’t played golf with.”
Matt Fitzpatrick improved to 2-0-0 with a 4-2 victory over Ian Poulter, and Seamus Power won his second match with a 5-and-4 victory against Patrick Cantlay. Tyrrell Hatton defeated Si Woo Kim in his second encounter, winning 1 up.
“This is nothing short of a miracle.” Fitzpatrick added, “This is the closest I’ve been to getting out of the group.” “I’m pleased with how things have gone thus far. The good news is that it’s in my hands, so if I go out tomorrow and win, I’ll be through.”
On Friday, the third round of pool play will begin. The field will be whittled down to 16 players after Friday’s action, and single elimination will begin on Saturday.