Spieth on fire, Mickelson ekes out rocky win at Match Play

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2016 6:13 PM

(Reuters) - Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson won their respective matches at the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas on Thursday to retain perfect records but did so in contrasting fashion.

While world number one Spieth oozed confidence with the state of his game, fellow American Mickelson said he had played poorly and been lucky to beat compatriot Daniel Berger in a bizarre finish to their match.

"Very pleased to get today done with quickly," Spieth told Golf Channel after dusting off Frenchman Victor Dubuisson 5&4.

Spieth, who will defend his title at the Masters in two weeks, moved to 2-0-0 in the 64-man World Golf Championships event at Austin Country Club.

Every player contests three matches in his group in a round-robin format, with 16 players advancing to the knockout phase that starts on Saturday.

Spieth needs only to halve his match against compatriot Justin Thomas on Friday to be mathematically certain of advancing to the final 16.

Spieth has been slightly out-of-sorts recently, but he sounded a warning shot to anyone tempted to suggest that last season's magnificent season, which included two major victories and near-misses in the other two, was a flash in the pan.

"My swing’s been coming around, working hard on it for the last month of so, really starting to show signs of that work this week," he said. "Been able to flight the ball nicely."

In contrast to Spieth, five-times major champion Mickelson admitted he had been fortunate to edge Berger 1-up.

Berger conceded defeat after injuring his wrist when he struck a rock trying to play his second shot at the final hole.

"We both struggled today," Mickelson said. "Fortunately I’ve got my instructor here and I’m going to get a little practice session in and try to get this right."

Among other early starters to post perfect 2-0-0 records were Americans Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson and Bill Haas, South African Louis Oosthuizen and Englishman Andy Sullivan.

Australian Jason Day, winner at Bay Hill on Sunday, had a late tee time, but after tweaking his back on Thursday took the course against Thai Thongchai Jaidee.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine)