AUSTIN, Texas — After grinding through a couple victories the old-fashioned way through the first two rounds at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Max Homa became the first player to reach the knockout stage at Austin Country Club without getting to the first tee on Friday.
Homa — who beat Justin Suh, 3 and 2, in his opening match, and then came from behind to get the same result against match-play guru and friend Kevin Kisner on Thursday — moved into the round of 16 after Hideki Matsuyama withdrew before the pair were set to tee off.
All tee times were moved up on Friday due to inclement weather in the region, and Matsuyama, who opened play with a 1-up victory over Kisner, but fell to Suh on Thursday, 3 and 1, would have been playing for an opportunity to advance.
Matsuyama said he withdrew as a precautionary measure, according to a statement that came through the PGA Tour Communications team. He is still expected to play next week in the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
Statement from Hideki Matsuyama: pic.twitter.com/9Xo76JrCEY
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) March 24, 2023
Unfortunately for Suh, that means he’s also eliminated, even though a win against Kisner and a Matsuyama victory could have pushed him into a playoff.
Also, Will Zalatoris conceded to Ryan Fox as their match was about to begin. According to the Tour, Zalatoris cited illness as the reason. He had failed to win either of his first two matches and had already been eliminated.
For Matsuyama, this was just another bump along an injury-plagued 18 months.
The eight-time PGA Tour champ withdrew from the 2022 Players Championship before the first round, citing a back injury. He withdrew from the Valero Texas Open a week before defending at the Masters. He withdrew from the 3M Open after the first round and from the FedEx St. Jude Championship playoff event due to a neck injury.
And he withdrew from the Cadence Bank Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course, also citing a neck injury.
For Homa, this marks the first time in three attempts that he has emerged from pool play. He tweeted Friday morning, saying he hopes Matsyuama feels better soon.
In all seriousness, this isn’t the way I wanted to make it through. I hope Hideki feels better soon. Golf is better when he’s playing well
— max homa (@maxhoma23) March 24, 2023