World No. 1 Dustin Johnson lost his first two matches and has been eliminated from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson was knocked out of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play on Thursday by losing his second-consecutive match, this time by a 4&3 margin to No. 38 seed Adam Hadwin. The defeat dropped him to 0-0-2 for the tournament following his 3&1 loss to No. 52 Bernd Wiesberger on Thursday. There is no mathematical way he can advance from Group 1, as he was heavily favored to.
What a difference a year makes.
In the 2017 rendition of this tournament, Dustin Johnson put forth a performance for the ages. In winning his third tournament in a row—and becoming the first player to win all four World Golf Championships—Johnson never trailed over the 112 holes he played and led 96 percent of the time he was on the course.
In Johnson's defense, he played solidly on Friday. Had it been a stroke play round, he likely would have shot around -2. But Hadwin managed three birdies and an eagle and was simply better. That's one of the difficult realities of this match-play format. It gives and it takes—it's possible to skate by with a sub-par round if your opponent is even worse on the day, but there are also instances when good rounds are punished with a loss. The latter is what happened to Johnson on Thursday.
Johnson will play another match on Friday, when he gets an opportunity to play spoiler against fellow South Carolinian Kevin Kisner. Johnson isn't expected to tee it up in next week's Houston Open, so his focus will now shift to Augusta National.
A win over Kisner would be a positive ending to a disappointing tournament, but don't expect Johnson to be too affected by this week one way or another. Johnson, whose length comes especially in handy on Augusta's four par-5s, took t-6th at the 2015 Masters and t-4th in 2016. Last year, in one of the more bizarre stories of the golf season, Johnson entered the season's first major as a heavy favorite before hurting his back just before the tournament started and withdrawing shortly before his Thursday tee time.
He'll like his chances to contend once again this year, even if this week in Austin did not go as planned. If there's one guy capable of flushing away a bad week quickly, it's DJ.