Commentary

Jason Day, Graeme McDowell rally

Updated: February 20, 2014, 9:37 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

Best Match: Several choices, but we'll go with Jason Day's victory over Billy Horschel, which went to the 22nd hole. Day was 3 down early and still 3 down through 10 holes. But he managed to tie with match with a birdie at the 16th, then finally got the victory with a birdie on the fourth extra hole.

Best Comeback: For the second day in a row, Graeme McDowell takes the honor. He was 3 down through 6 holes (he was 4 down through 7 on Thursday) and still trailed by 2 with 4 holes to play. But he made a birdie at the 16th and 17th holes to tie Hideki Matsuyama, then won with a par at the 18th.

British Busts: England's Justin Rose was the only Brit left in the field, but he went the way of countrymen Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and David Lynn on Thursday. Rose fell to Ernie Els in 20 holes in a match in which the reigning U.S. Open champion was 1 up with 3 to play.

Biggest Surprise: At this point, there really are no surprises, but losing all four of the No. 1 seeds -- Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson and Rose -- through two days would have to rank in that category.

Biggest Blowout: Jordan Spieth made easy work of Thomas Bjorn, winning 5 and 4. And it could have been a bigger blowout. Spieth missed a 3-footer on the 13th hole that would have closed out the match.

Bizarre Moment: Ernie Els appeared in trouble when his second shot to the par-5 second, his 20th hole against Rose, came to rest on a downslope on the edge of a bunker. Els admitted he caught the shot a bit thin, it hit the bank and then trickled perfectly toward the hole, setting up a winning birdie. "It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime shots," he said.

U.S. vs. Europe: There were five matches Thursday that involved a U.S. player against a European player. After the Americans went 10-6 in such encounters on Wednesday, they prevailed again Thursday, going 4-1. Sergio Garcia's 3-and-1 win over Bill Haas was the only European victory.

Biggest Smile on Tom Watson's Face: Watson, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, saw potential team members Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Spieth, Harris English, Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler win their matches Thursday. The more success at match play, the better.

Bracket Busters: For the sixth straight year, the overall No. 1 seed (this time Henrik Stenson) failed to advance past the second round. In fact, all of the No. 1 seeds are gone, but three of the No. 2s remain.

Best Round of 16 Match: McDowell vs. Mahan. This was the final match at the 2010 Ryder Cup, with McDowell prevailing in spectacular fashion to hold off a furious U.S. comeback. Mahan has had good success in this tournament, making for intriguing possibilities.

Biggest Consolation Prize: All of the first-round losers left with $48,000. The 16 players who lost Thursday were sent packing with a $99,000 check. An 18th-place finish last week at Riviera didn't earn that much ($97,150).

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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