Spieth on track at WGC-Dell Match Play

Jordan Spieth cruised past Victor Dubuisson 5&4 to take one step closer to reaching the round of 16 at the WGC-Dell Match Play in Austin. 

World number two Jason Day fought through a back injury to triumph 5&3 in his battle with Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, while defending champion Rory McIlroy clinched a 3&1 win over Smylie Kaufman.

Spieth, who only needs to halve his match against Justin Thomas on Friday to reach the round of 16, went 1-up at the second before extending his lead with a 10-foot birdie putt at the next hole.

At the fifth, Spieth made another birdie to go 3-up and maintained his lead until Dubuisson showed a glimmer of fight at the 11th, where he converted a five-foot birdie, while Spieth had to settle for a double bogey after his tee shot found the water.

However, Spieth bounced back brilliantly as he took advantage of Dubuisson’s out of bounds and water penalties at the 12th and 13th respectively to go 4-up.

The world number one finished off the Frenchman by making a birdie at the 14th.

Day, who injured his back during his 3&2 win over Graeme McDowell on Wednesday, began his clash with Jaidee in style as he sunk an 11-foot eagle putt at the first to go 1-up.

Jaidee’s penalty for hitting the ball out of bounds at the second saw Day’s lead increase to 2-up. However, the 28-year-old, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, saw his lead reduced when he missed a nine-foot par putt to record a bogey at the fifth. The Australian restored his two-hole advantage at the next hole, but it was cut down once again when his putting let him down at the eighth.

That was to be the last of Day’s back-and-forth battle with Jaidee as he went 2-up at the ninth and extended his lead to 3-up following a three-foot birdie putt at the 10th. His lead swelled to 4-up at the next hole before he capped off his victory with a six-foot birdie putt at the 15th.

McIlroy meanwhile had to wait until the 17th hole to wrap up his 3&1 win over Kaufman.

The Ulsterman took an early lead with a nine-foot birdie putt at the second before Kaufman brought himself level and went on to take the lead with a birdie at the fourth. However, McIlroy regained the lead at the sixth only to surrender it again when his tee shot at the 11th found the water.

With Kaufman 1-up after the 12th, the defending champion mounted a late comeback by bringing himself level at the 13th before reclaiming the lead with a birdie at the 14th. He then extended his at the next hole courtesy of Kaufman’s bogey. The world number two secured his victory after Kaufman’s tee shot at the 17th went out of bounds.

Meanwhile, Bubba Watson beat Emiliano Grillo 2-up, while Rickie Fowler halved his clash with Scott Piercy. India’s Anirban Lahiri halved his encounter with Justin Rose, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat lost to Dustin Johnson 5&4. However, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama tasted victory on Thursday as he downed Soren Kjeldsen 4&2.

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