AUSTIN, Texas — William McGirt knew what he needed to do Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
After earning a win in his debut match, the Fairmont native went into the second day with a chance to take command in his four-man group — and he did.
With the wind whipping at Austin Country Club, McGirt remained steady with his grind-it-out style in the difficult conditions, earning a 2-and-1 victory over Branden Grace to vault to the top of the group with a 2-0 record.
“It’s nice to know I control my own destiny,” McGirt told The Robesonian.
With 30 mph gusts raging throughout the course, holes were won with pars — and even a few bogeys.
Grace, the No. 15 seed, made the turn with a 1-up lead, but McGirt won three of the first four holes on the back nine en route to claiming his second consecutive match. Grace made bogeys on three of the final nine holes, while McGirt battled to earn pars.
The wind almost cost him a par on No. 13, where a gust turned a 10-foot birdie opportunity into a 35-foot lag putt.
“Conditions were brutal,” McGirt said. “The hardest part was how gusty the wind was. It would change directions just enough to make club selection hard. The trickiest part was reading putts. I played several to break uphill because of the wind.”
The match looked to be shifting in Grace’s direction after McGirt made bogey on the par-4 15th, but McGirt holed out from the fringe on the par-5 16th for an unlikely par to remain 1-up, leading to a celebratory fist pump and high-five with his caddie, Brandon Antus.
He closed out the match on the par-3 17th, rolling in a 6-foot par putt to seal the 2-and-1 victory.
McGirt birdied the opening hole to take the early advantage, but made bogey on the following hole to even the match. He wouldn’t pull in front again until the par-5 12th, where he rolled in a 12-footer for birdie to take the lead for good.
He will face Andy Sullivan, who is 0-2 in the group, on Friday for a chance to advance to the weekend of single-elimination matches. The pair will tee off at 12:53 p.m. Eastern time.