An opening day of emotions and a few surprises at Match Play

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Jon Rahm, of Spain, reacts to his fourth shot on the fifth hole, during a first round match at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AUSTIN, Texas – Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay thrust their fists in celebration with birdies on the final hole to win, the kind of emotions typical for a final round. In the Dell Technologies Match Play, every day can feel like Sunday.

The opening round of group play Wednesday featured 16 of the 32 matches going the distance, Rory McIlroy suffering his worst loss in 10 years and some of the best moments belonging to newcomers to this fickle event.

That starts with Antoine Rozner, the 28-year-old from Paris who only got into this World Golf Championship by winning the Qatar Masters two weeks ago with a 60-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

Clinging to a one-shot lead over U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, a tree blocking the 54 yards that separated him from the flag, Rozner hit a bold flop shot that settled 8 feet behind the hole. Finishing with a flair, the Frenchman holed the putt for a 2-up victory over DeChambeau.

“I think it’s one of those shots you’ve just got to go ahead and hit it,” Rozner said. “I turned out to hit that shot really well, went super high over the trees. Super happy that it was close because that put a lot of pressure on Bryson on the last chip. So yeah, very happy.”

Next up was Bob MacIntyre of Scotland, dropping two eagles over the final five holes in a 2-and-1 victory over Kevin Na. The second one was at the par-5 16th, where MacIntyre holed a bunker shot to seize control.

With the talent pool in golf as deep as it has ever been, it's hard to call any match an upset.

That doesn't mean players weren't upset.