AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) – Kevin Kisner was hoping for some trash talk during his match against Justin Thomas at the WGC-Dell Match Play on Friday, and he got it.
“There was a lot,” Kisner admitted. “It was actually pretty entertaining banter.”
Kisner jumped on Thomas early in the round, making four birdies and an eagle in his first six holes to advance to the Round of 16. Kisner tied the third hole with a clutch two-putt from 50 feet during that stretch, which he finished with a 3-up lead.
“I was 6 under after six,” Kisner remembered, “and he said, ‘I’m waiting for you to wake up.'”
Thomas and Kisner have a friendly rivalry, with Thomas hailing from Alabama and Kisner from Georgia. Thomas tried everything he could to avoid another blow after going 5 down at the turn, with Kisner possessing current bragging rights after winning the national championship on the gridiron this year. On the other hand, Kisner concentrated on remaining in his opponent’s ear.
Kisner chimed in after Thomas sank a 4-footer for birdie at No. 10 after a fortuitous kick.
“He hit a wedge to the right edge of the green, it kicked dead left, almost went in to four feet, and I said, ‘Good shot, Jordan,'” Kisner said. “But it’s like that all day, on every hole.”
Kisner eventually proved to be too much. Thomas had clawed his way back to 3 down after 13 holes, but a misplaced tee ball at No. 15 cost him the match. After eight holes, Kisner was 7 under par, and pars on Nos. 9-14 were enough to secure the 4-and-3 victory.
Thomas, according to Kisner, is “relentless.” “You know you can’t get away with mediocre golf when he hits every ball right at the flag, and keeping your head in it to keep scoring birdies after you’ve made a bunch is challenging.”
Kisner has advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament (he’ll face Adam Scott on Saturday morning), which is nothing new. In 2018, he finished second to Bubba Watson before winning at Austin Country Club in 2019.
When asked about what he’s learnt from previous experience in this format, Kisner emphasized the significance of conserving energy during what may be two days of matches.
“I’m not worried about warming up or going to practice before the round,” Kisner said. “I’m just going to hit three or four balls on the range and walk to the first tee.” “I went out and completed a full warmup before the final against Bubba, and I knew I was cooked after two or three holes.”
Kisner was thrilled to hand his ‘Bama pal another ‘L,’ but he said Thomas was likely already over the loss.
“Oh, he’s not concerned,” Kisner explained. “He’s got a lot of money in the bank, so I’m not concerned about his financial situation.”