The Latest: Smith, Cantlay win matches on the 18th hole
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the Dell Technologies Match Play (all times local):
Cameron Smith of Australia won his second straight match on the 18th hole, this time taking down Hideki Matsuyama.
The second day of Match Play ended with Patrick Cantlay losing the lead for the first time all day on the 17th hole, only to drive near the green and get up-and-down for birdie to beat Yusaku Miyazato.
Smith, Cantlay and Matsuyama all have a chance to emerge from Group 5.
Going into Friday’s final day of round robin, 20 players already have been mathematically eliminated, a list that includes defending champion Dustin Johnson, last year’s runner-up, Jon Rahm, and Zach Johnson.
Five matches are between players already eliminated.
In Group 10, Kyle Stanley plays Russell Henley and the winner can get into a playoff as long as Paul Casey loses. Casey plays Matt Fitzpatrick, who already has been eliminated.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are not the only undefeated players who will face each other in Match Play.
Justin Thomas wrapped up his second victory by beating Patton Kizzire, and Thomas next faces Francesco Molinari with the right to advance to the weekend at Austin Country Club.
In other matches between undefeated players, Sergio Garcia takes on Xander Schauffele, and Tony Finau plays Alex Noren.
Also at stake on the final day of group play is a potential spot in the Masters. Charles Howell III and Ian Poulter both need to move into the top 50 after this week to earn a spot at Augusta National. They likely will need to at least reach the quarterfinals. First, they have to win their groups.
Both were the worst seed in their groups. Both are 2-0.
Poulter faces Kevin Chappell, while Howell takes on Satoshi Kodaira on Friday.
Phil Mickelson stayed alive in the Match Play with the biggest comeback of the week at Austin Country Club.
Mickelson already lost his opening match to Charles Howell III. Then, he was 4 down through eight holes against Satoshi Kodaira. Lefty pulled within one hole, fell behind again and was down to his last shot when Kodaira stayed 2 up with three holes to play.
Mickelson won the 16th with a birdie. He won the 17th by saving par from a bunker. And he won the 18th hole when he drove just short of the 18th green, chipped to 7 feet and holed the birdie putt.
Mickelson still needs help on Friday to advance out of group play for the second straight year. He has to win his match against Rafa Cabrera Bello and hope that Howell loses to Kodaira. If that happens, Mickelson and Howell would meet in a sudden-death playoff.
Rory McIlroy still has hope to advance to the weekend in Match Play.
McIlroy had no trouble beating Jhonattan Vegas on Thursday, and it helped when Brian Harman took out Peter Uihlein. That means McIlroy could advance to the weekend if he beats Harman on Friday and Uihlein loses his match. If Uihlein and McIlroy win, they would play each other in a sudden-death playoff. Ties in group standings are decided by a playoff, not head-to-head results.
McIlroy is trying to avoid elimination on Friday for the second straight year.
Meanwhile, Ian Poulter won his second match and move into second place for most matches won (25) in the Match Play. Tiger Woods holds the record with 33 matches.
No one could beat Dustin Johnson a year ago. Now he can’t beat anyone in the Match Play.
The world’s No. 1 player was eliminated from his group Thursday when he lost, 4 and 3, to Adam Hadwin of Canada. Johnson lost to Bernd Wiesberger in the opening round.
This is Johnson’s last tournament before the Masters.
His elimination paves the way for Justin Thomas to reach No. 1 in the world if he can win the Match Play this week.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed improved to 2-0 in the Dell Technologies Match Play and now face off to see who advances to the weekend.
Spieth never trailed in a 4-and-2 victory over Li Haotong. Reed had to rally from a 2-down deficit at the turn to beat Charl Schwartzel. Spieth and Reed have been partners for 11 matches in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. They go head-to-head on Friday to decide who wins the group.
Tony Finau and Alex Noren also improved to 2-0 and play each other in the third round.
Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson both trailed in their matches and faced elimination at Austin Country Club.