Max Homa got the best of fellow Cal grad Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament at Austin, Texas. Homa needs a win Friday against J.T. Poston to advance to Saturday’s 16-player bracket of pool winners.
Morikawa was seeded as the No. 4 player in the 64-player event, but halved his opening match Wednesday against No. 63 Poston and lost 2 and 1 to Homa on Thursday.
Poston, who beat Billy Horschel 4 and 2 on Thursday, has 1 1/2 points entering Friday’s play and is best positioned to advance to the bracket of 16 pool winners on Saturday. Homa can prevail by winning Friday; Poston would advance with a win or by halving the match.
Homa and Horschel each have 1 point and Morikawa is last with one-half point.
Homa, 30, was the 2013 NCAA champion as a senior at Cal. Morikawa, 24, graduated from Berkeley in 2019 and won the PGA Championship a year later.
Morikawa had a 3-hole lead after 7 on Thursday, but won just one more hole. Homa, seeded No. 35, won 8, 9, 11, 12, 15 and 17 to end it, posting three birdies in a span of five holes on the back nine.
Morikawa had a chance until he pulled his tee shot on the short par-3 17th hole and spun his ball off the left edge and into the penalty area, clinching the match for Homa.
Poston, the second-lowest seeded player in the field, never trailed in his match vs. Horschel, despite playing the 16 holes in 1 over par.
On Wednesday, Morikawa eagled the par-5 12th hole cut get within a hole of Poston, then went ahead with a birdie on No. 16. But Poston birdied the 18th hole to pull even and claim a half-point.
Horschel, the No. 32 seed, beat Homa 1 up on Wednesday. Horschel built a 4-up lead in the match before Homa got even after 16 holes. Horschel birdied the par-3 17th hole to win.
Cover photo of Max Homa by Reinhold Matay, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo