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Hideki Matsuyama, Satoshi Kodaira lose first matches at WGC Match Play event

Kyodo

Hideki Matsuyama and Satoshi Kodaira were among the losers in the first of three group-stage matches at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play on Wednesday.

Matsuyama lost 4&3 to Branden Grace of South Africa to open the Masters tune-up while Kodaira suffered a 5&4 defeat to Italy’s Francesco Molinari. The struggling Kodaira was no match for the reigning British Open champion, who birdied three of the first five holes at Austin Country Club.

“I thought I was in good shape but it was different on the course. I made a lot of mistakes so I have no excuse for the result,” Matsuyama said.

“He was a strong opponent. Molinari makes golf look easy. I need to play more like him. He showed me a great game,” Kodaira said.

Defending champion Bubba Watson was beaten by Kevin Na in his Group 15 opener, finishing with an 18th hole bunker and handing the U.S. 57th seed a 1-up victory.

Tiger Woods, who is playing in the WGC-Match Play for the first time since 2013, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and world No. 4 Rory McIlroy were among the winners in the opening round.

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