Fleetwood holds on to his courage to beat DeChambeau to reach the last 16 at the WGC Match Play Championship
Tommy Fleetwood holds on to the courage to beat US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau to reach the last 16 at the WGC Match Play Championship
- Fleetwood withstood a strong backlash from DeChambeau in Austin, Texas
- The Englishman was four after seven holes at the WGC Match Play Championship
- But he finally had to scramble from a difficult position to make headway on Friday
The last time they met was Paris in the fall, and Tommy Fleetwood recorded a slice of Ryder Cup history with his partner Frankie Molinari when they demolished Bryson DeChambeau and Tiger Woods.
Nothing quite like that momentous occasion at the WGC Match Play Championship on Friday, except that at the end of a nerve-racking ninth against an attacking DeChambeau, Fleetwood came up with a par four on the 18th, so miraculously he may also remember it in its dotage.
How it ever came to such exploits only Fleetwood could probably explain, as he was four after seven holes.
Tommy Fleetwood eventually scrambled from a difficult position to secure his place in the last 16
The idea that DeChambeau would make it such a match would have created odds comparable to San Marino winning a World Cup qualifier.
It was just as one-sided as at Le Golf National in 2018, when the Europeans were the first pair to win four points out of four with a 5 & 4 dusting.
Even a few casual mistakes from the Englishman this time seemed inconclusive.
He missed a two and a half meter putt on ninth to go four and gave the par-three eleventh place to his opponent when his tee shot hit the water.
However, DeChambeau failed to take advantage and was still three to play with five, not having collected a single birdie.
It’s a trait all major players share that they never give up. DeChambeau’s first birdie on the 14th was followed by a Fleetwood error on the 15th.
In the par-five 16th, DeChambeau hit a 380-meter run and found the green with his iron approach. Fleetwood was hopelessly out of position and the game seemed destined to be all square. Fleetwood then bore through a brave 20-footer to keep his shortened advantage.
Once against the short par-four 18th, it all seemed to mean nothing when Fleetwood made his drive into a penalty area.
Bryson DeChambeau was four behind after seven holes, but never gave up in an exciting encounter
DeChambeau whipped his drive to the front of the well surface and chipped up to 8 feet. Fleetwood found he could play his shot, but it flew over the green, leaving him in a precarious position. But he played a great throw over a bunker, the ball ended a meter and a half from the hole. When DeChambeau’s putt missed, Fleetwood gratefully took the opportunity to claim what was ultimately an unlikely point.
It meant he avoided a sudden death playoff against Antoine Rozner to see who won their group. The 30-year-old had moved up to the last 16 for the first time and will play the crafty South African Dylan Frittelli this morning.
“It didn’t look great on the 18th at the end of a very scrappy back nine, but that’s match play and I came up with an unlikely par when I needed one,” said a relieved Fleetwood. “It was great to keep going and see if I can keep playing well and keep going.”
As for DeChambeau, this was his last competitive round for Augusta and he played well enough for the past month to write this off as one of those things at the end of a tough week.
In fact, it was a sloppy match from the start, with Fleetwood winning the first with a par, then holding on in his favor over the next three holes, barely taking a shot to his usual standard. He then shifted gears and won the next three holes with two birdies and one against on the seventh.
So the gifts were handed out afterwards and returned properly to those explosive last five holes.