Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm flexed their muscles as they advanced to the last four of the WGC Match Play in Austin.
Johnson entered his match against Alex Noren, having led for all 60 holes he had played to that point. He then birdied the first to lead again and led for 10 more holes. But on his 72nd hole of the week – and after losing his third straight hole of the match – Johnson was finally back to all square.
Of course, he then promptly birdied the next hole, the par-4 13th, with a 9-foot putt, then closed out the match with birdies at 15 and 16. Give Noren credit – he pushed Johnson to the 16th hole, the only player to do so thus far this week.
‘Obviously I won the first three holes, but then from there we were kind of back and forth,’ said the world number one.
‘Like I said, I gave 10 and 11 away. Then he won 12, too. Got back to all square.
‘So obviously it was a lot tighter than I would like to have been, standing on 13 tee. But came back and birdied three of my next four holes and got the match.’
Johnson will play Japan’s Hideto Tanihara in the semi-finals on Sunday.
Rahm completed a near-perfect day of golf, jumping on Soren Kjeldsen early and rolling to his most lopsided win of the week.
In his two Saturday matches, Rahm played 27 holes, held the lead for 26 of them, won 14 holes and lost just one. Kjeldsen opened with a bogey after an errant approach shot on the opening hole, and Rahm took it from there.
He birdied the third from 9 feet, the fifth from 3 feet and eagled the sixth from 5 feet . He was 4 up at the turn and then birdied two of the next three holes to pad his lead.
‘The golf I’ve played the last three matches really has been very impressive, even to myself, and it seemed to get better as I played, which is something that doesn’t happen often,’ said Rahm.
‘I felt my confidence was growing. The first few matches my putter let me down, but I was hitting the ball great.
‘Today my putter was rolling. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I was able to do it the way I did it today.’
The Spaniard will play American Bill Haas in the second semi-final after the latter upset Phil Mickelson 2&1.
Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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