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Rahm, Johnson roll on as WGC-Match Play final four set

Dustin Johnson is cruising in Austin. (Getty Images)

The final four of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was set on Saturday afternoon, with a pair of dominating performances by two of golf’s hottest players, an unlikely steady performer advancing over a legend and a potential breakout start putting his way to the semifinals.

Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm easily moved on to the Sunday morning semifinals, continuing their unbeaten streak to five matches.

Rahm dispatched of Soren Kjeldsen by a 7-and-5 count, marking a second dominating performance on the day, following a 6-and-4 drubbing of Charles Howell III in the morning Round of 16 session. The Spaniard, who can get into the world top 10 in just 21 professional starts by capturing the win on Sunday, played just 27 of a possible 36 holes in the two combined matches — three fewer than Johnson, who has dominated opponents all week.

The world No. 1 Johnson defeated Alex Noren in the quarterfinal round by a 3-and-2 margin, a seemingly comfortable win devoid of drama. And, for the first nine holes, it was a carbon copy of Johnson’s prior four matches through the week. Johnson won the first hole, as he has in all five of his matches this week, and he took a 3-up lead into the back nine. The Swede Noren, however, won three consecutive holes to start the final half of the match and pulled even, marking the first time all week that Johnson was not ahead in a match. From there, Johnson won three of the final four holes to set up a spot in the semifinals.

If Rahm and Johnson are to meet and deliver the kind of fitting final this championship deserves, they’ll each have to get past opponents that they underestimate at their own peril.

Going into the week, few people gave Hideto Tanihara a chance to even get out of the group he shared with Jordan Spieth, who went to the University of Texas near host Austin Country Club. However, Tanihara did that and then managed to use his impressive putting ability to beat a pair of Englishmen — first in Paul Casey, second in Ross Fisher. With the win over Fisher, Tanihara assured himself a spot in the Official World Golf Ranking top 50 after Sunday, which comes with a spot in the Masters. While Fisher had to be upset for his week to end, he also landed a spot in the Masters via the top 50 when he beat Bubba Watson in the Round of 16.

Tanihara’s reward for getting this far? Dustin Johnson on Sunday morning.

Then there’s Rahm’s opponent, Bill Haas, who advanced to the semifinal by beating Phil Mickelson by a 2-and-1 count. Haas jumped out to a 3-up edge through six holes, but Mickelson, who hadn’t seen the final three holes of the course all week until Saturday afternoon, battled back. Mickelson cut the margin to one hole but was unable for two consecutive holes to pull all square. In his first time there all week, Mickelson halved 16 with Haas and lost the 17th to end the match and his deepest run in the WGC-Match Play since 2004.

In the third year of the group-play twist to the WGC-Match Play, Johnson and Rahm could continue the trend of champions going 7-0-0 through the week.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Lee takes 1-shot lead over Hur in Kia Classic (The Associated Press)

Mirim Lee of Republic of Korea, tees of on the eighth tee during the final round of a LPGA golf tournament on Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Moving day at the Kia Classic set up what should be an exciting final 18 holes at Aviara on Sunday. Mirim Lee shot a 5-under 67 in the third round Saturday to go to 13-under and take a one shot lead over Mi Jung Hur, who made a 67-foot putt on No. 18 to card a 66. Another South Korean, In Gee Chun, was tied at 10-under with Cristie Kerr, who was in a three-way tie for the lead after the first round and was alone atop the leaderboard after 36 holes.


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Lee takes 1-shot lead over Hur in Kia Classic.

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) Mirim Lee shot a 5-under 67 Saturday in the third round of the Kia Classic to go to 13-under and take a one shot lead over Mi Jung Hur, who made a 67-foot putt on No. 18 to card a 66.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.foxsports.com/golf/story/lee-takes-1-shot-lead-over-hur-in-kia-classic-032517

Match Play at a glance (The Associated Press)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A brief look at Saturday's rounds in the Dell Technologies Match Play (All times EDT):

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Match Play at a glance

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) A brief look at Saturday's rounds in the Dell Technologies Match Play (All times EDT):

Permanent link to this article: http://www.foxsports.com/golf/story/match-play-at-a-glance-032517

Stroud takes 1-shot lead in Puerto Rico

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) Chris Stroud has gone 276 tournaments over the better part of a decade trying to win on the PGA Tour. A birdie on the final hole Saturday in the Puerto Rico Open gave him his first 54-hole lead, and he hopes his experience will keep him calm.

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Stroud takes 1-shot lead in Puerto Rico (The Associated Press)

Chris Stroud has gone 276 tournaments over the better part of a decade trying to win on the PGA Tour. A birdie on the final hole Saturday in the Puerto Rico Open gave him his first 54-hole lead, and he hopes his experience will keep him calm. Stroud kept a clean card at Coco Beach Golf and Country Club for a 5-under 67, giving him a one-shot lead over Bill Lunde and D.A. Points.

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Stroud takes 1-shot lead in Puerto Rico

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) Chris Stroud birdied his final hole Saturday to cap off a 5-under 67 and take a one-shot lead in the Puerto Rico Open as he goes for his first PGA Tour victory.

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Golf-WGC-Match Play Championship quarterfinal scores (Reuters)

March 25 (Gracenote) - Scores from the WGC-Match Play Championship Quarterfinal on Saturday in Austin, Texas Bill Haas (U.S.) beat Phil Mickelson (U.S.) 2 and 1 Jon Rahm (Spain) beat Soren Kjeldsen (Denmark) 7 and 5 Hideto Tanihara (Japan) beat Ross Fisher (Britain) 4 and 2 Dustin Johnson (U.S.) beat Alexander Noren (Sweden) 3 and 2

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Dustin Johnson through to Match Play semi-finals (Reuters)

Mar 25, 2017; Austin, TX, USA; Phil Mickelson of the United States plays against Marc Leishman of Australia during the round Round of 16 / Quarterfinals of the World Golf Classic - Dell Match Play golf tournament  at Austin Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - World number one Dustin Johnson stayed on track to become the first player to win all four World Golf Championships events when he advanced to the semi-finals at the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas on Saturday. Johnson lost three consecutive holes during his quarter-final against Alexander Noren, but had enough in reserve to secure a 3&2 victory over the Swedish eighth seed at Austin Country Club. Next up for the American top seed is a Sunday morning semi-final against Japanese 54th seed Hideto Tanihara, while Spaniard 21st seed Jon Rahm and American 42nd seed Bill Haas meet in the other semi.


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