Louis Oosthuizen in action at the World Golf Championship Matchplay last year. Photo: Sunshine Tour

AUSTIN – Louis Oosthuizen was the only South African to taste success in the opening round of the World Golf Championship Matchplay in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.

Oosthuizen defeated American Jason Dufner 1 up. Oosthuizen, who lost to Day in the 2016 championship match, survived Dufner's late rally. 

Three other South Africans lost - Charl Schwartzel, Dylan Frittelli and Brendan Grace.

Oosthizen was 3-up through 12 after back-to-back birdies. But starting with the 14th, Dufner won three straight holes to square the match. His eagle from 12-1/2 feet at the par-5 16th negated Oothuizen's birdie at that hole. 

But with momentum on his side, Dufner lost the par-3 17th with a bogey when his tee shot found the rough, and Oosthuizen matched Dufner's birdie on the final hole. 

Dufner missed just one of 14 fairways while Oosthuizen made two putts outside 21 feet.

Oosthuizen said: “I had one bad shot on 14 but still managed to go 2-up. Then Jason nearly holed his second on 15 and made eagle on 16 which you can't really do anything about. 

“I got fortunate on 17 that he was going first actually. I probably would have hit the same club as him and ended up going with a shorter club. And I think I had a pretty good shot on 18. I think it's my first time playing 18 if I'm not mistaken but I managed to hold on.”

In another match Jordan Spieth beat Charl Schwartzel  2/1. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but the former University of Texas star never trailed. 

Schwartzel opened with two bogeys, but Spieth's second bogey of the round at the sixth hole squared the match. Schwartzel's bogey at the 12th when his approach found the water gave Spieth the lead for good, and that's when he stepped on the gas. 

Back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 - both putts were inside three feet - put him in command.

Meanwhile, another American Xander Schauffele just edged out Frittelli 1 up with last year's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year bouncing back from two late bogeys with consecutive birdies to claim the win in a battle of matchplay rookies. 

Schauffele got up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 16th to take the lead, then rolled in a 13-footer on the 17th with Frittelli missing his attempt. 

Finally, Bubba Watson was too strong for Branden Grace, thumping him 5&3.

Watson opened his round with seven birdies in the first nine holes. Watson's putter was the key. He made an 18-foot birdie putt on No 1, a five-footer at No 2, a 27-footer at No 3 and a 25- footer at No 4 to start the day. 

Grace didn't play badly - bogey-free two-under in his first 14 holes - but he never had a chance. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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