China's Li scores 'amazing' win over Koepka

With a perfect record of two wins, China's Li Haotong is in the driver's seat to win his group and advance to the round of 16 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
With a perfect record of two wins, China's Li Haotong is in the driver's seat to win his group and advance to the round of 16 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

AUSTIN (Texas) • Chinese giant-killer Li Haotong felt "amazing" after beating Brooks Koepka 1-up to knock the American out of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play on Thursday.

Li, 23, closed out in style when his 50-yard pitch at the final hole struck the pin and settled a few inches away for a conceded birdie at Austin Country Club in Texas.

"It's amazing. Today he (Koepka) didn't really give me many holes as yesterday (against Alex Noren). So it's a tough match against a tough guy," Li, who defeated Sweden's Noren 5 and 4 in his opening Group 3 match on Wednesday, said of his victory over three-time Major champion Koepka, the third seed.

"It was incredible. I didn't expect that. I was in some bad positions today, but I felt I stayed patient, did that very well. Lose a hole doesn't matter, keep the head up. It's not an easy golf course, especially when the wind is blowing."

With a perfect 2-0-0 record, 36th seed Li has only to halve with English 60th seed Tom Lewis yesterday (this morning, Singapore time) to win his group and advance to the round of 16 of the US$10.25 million (S$13.9 million) showpiece.

Koepka, with one loss and one half, will head home no matter the result of his final match of the round-robin phase against Noren (1-1-0). Noren can still proceed to the round of 16, but the cards must fall his way.

Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods lost 2 and 1 to fellow American Brandt Snedeker, leaving the 13th seed with an uphill battle to win his group and advance to the 16-man knockout phase.

With one win and one loss, Woods will not have control of his own fate when he faces fellow American Patrick Cantlay on the final day of the round-robin phase this morning (Singapore time).

Even if Woods beats Cantlay, he will still be eliminated if Snedeker beats Aaron Wise in the other match. The group winner is likely to face fourth seed Rory McIlroy in the round of 16.

McIlroy defeated South Africa's Justin Harding 3 and 2, with eagles at the par-5 12th and 16th and a birdie at the par-4 15th tipping a squared match his way to give him a 2-0 record and group lead.

Defending champion Bubba Watson was eliminated with a 2 and 1 loss to fellow American Billy Horschel, while 12th seed Jason Day, a two-time champion, was ousted with his second defeat, falling 4 and 3 to Sweden's Henrik Stenson.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2019, with the headline 'China's Li scores 'amazing' win over Koepka'. Print Edition | Subscribe