Thursday, March 24, 2016

Mickelson wins over Daniel Berger after 18th hole injury

Phil Mickelson won his Thursday match at the WGC-Dell Match Play 1 up against Daniel Berger, but it probably wasn't how the five-time major winner wanted to lock up his second win in as many days. 

Mickelson, who never trailed in the match, arrived to the 18th hole at Austin Country Club all square with Berger, last year's PGA Tour rookie of the year. After Mickelson smashed a 320-yard tee shot to the right side of the fairway, Berger pulled his tee shot to the finishing hole, with his ball winding up near a rock wall. 

After taking some dozen practice swings, Berger thought he had a way to swing, avoid the wall, hit the ball and still have a chance to salvage at least a tie in the match. However, when he tried the swing for real, the hosel of his wedge clipped the rock wall, forcing Berger to whiff on the shot and injure his wrist. After he missed the shot, Berger conceded the hole at the match to Mickelson. 

Now at 2-0-0 in his group, Mickelson's Friday showdown with Patrick Reed, also perfect in a pair of matches, determines the winner of Group 9, one of 16 four-player groups that will feed into a bracket-style tournament after Friday play.

While Mickelson is happy to be undefeated, he wasn't happy with the sloppy play that got him there on Thursday.

"We both struggled today, neither one of us really 'won' any holes. We handed each other holes back-and-forth," said Mickelson, who made just two birdies on his round. "It wasn't the match either of us hoped for."

As for Berger, he has a meaningless match against Matthew Fitzpatrick. He could concede the match and get ready for the Masters in two weeks.

"I wouldn't play if my wrist doesn't feel good with the Masters coming up. We'll see, I don't know. It doesn't feel that great right now," said Berger. "I've never had an injury in my life. We'll see. Hopefully, I'll be all right."


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

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