Spi­eth sur­vives as sev­eral other stars are swept out of Match Play.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Suzanne Hal­libur­ton shal­libur­ton@states­

Jor­dan Spi­eth man­aged to steady his game Thurs­day while a nasty wind whipped through trees, cre­ated white caps on the

lake and tried to top­ple the flags adorn­ing the slick greens at Austin Coun­try Club. Af­ter his round, Spi­eth pro­claimed that

the con­di­tions pos­si­bly were the “tough­est I’ve ever seen it out here.”

The for­mer Texas star, with a de­ci­sive win over Yuta Ikeda, stayed in con­tention for a spot in Satur­day’s round of 16 at the WCG-Dell Tech­nolo­gies Match Play.

And that was good news for the tour­na­ment since so many other stars have been up­set by lesser seeds.

Spi­eth, who is the fifth seed, clinched his 4-and-2 vic­tory on the 16th hole, where the day be­fore he con­ceded vic­tory to Hideto Tani­hara.

“It was a must win,” Spi­eth said. “It was a tough day to play golf. With the wind I thought par would win the ma­jor­ity of the holes, just get­ting un­der par would be a

mag­nif­i­cent score. This was a step in the right di­rec­tion.”

The winds swirled from all di­rec­tions. Tour me­te­o­rol­o­gist Wade Stet­tner said the peak gust was mea­sured at 40 miles per hour, with the wind at its most blus­tery be­tween 3 and 4 p.m. The sus­tained winds were 25 mph.

Con­di­tions will change Fri­day, but not im­me­di­ately for the bet­ter. Tee times Fri­day were moved up by two hours, with the first golfers now start­ing at 7:30 a.m. Storms are ex­pected be­tween 10 a.m. and noon. If light­ning is within six miles of the

course, play will be sus­pended un­til the weather clears.

Golfers have one more guar­an­teed round Fri­day. Then the field drops to 16.

Spi­eth next will play Ryan Moore, the star of last year’s Ry­der Cup. Moore and Tani­hara halved their match Thurs­day. Tani­hara will win the group if he beats Ikeda on Fri­day. Other­wise, be­cause there are no head-to-head tiebreak­ers in the Dell for­mat, it’s con­ceiv­able that there could be a play­off for the spot.

Dustin John­son, the world’s topranked golfer, won eas­ily again for the sec­ond straight af­ter­noon. He beat Martin Kaymer, 3 and 2.

But Rory McIlroy, the 2015 win­ner and the tour­na­ment’s sec­ond seed, al­ready is out of the run­ning for weekend play.

McIlroy lost in his opener to Soren Kjeldsen. He won Thurs­day af­ter Gary Wood­land with­drew from the tour­na­ment be­fore his match with McIlroy. But Kjeldsen clinched the group vic­tory af­ter dis­pens­ing Emil­iano Grillo. He was set to play Wood­land on Fri­day, so he’ll get an­other point.

Kjeldsen said he’ll likely bring his two sons to the course Fri­day for a prac­tice ses­sion to prep for the round of 16.

“The weather fore­cast isn’t great,” Kjeldsen said. “We’re just go­ing to take it easy.”

Ser­gio Garcia, the sev­enth seed who has a home in Austin, stayed alive for a weekend spot with his 4-and-3 win over Kevin Chap­pell.

The wind, Garcia said, “was mak­ing you feel a lit­tle stupid. It was very gusty. Some­times you were hit­ting a good shot that was go­ing 20 yards shorter than you were hop­ing and some­times you were hit­ting a shot that looked good and it was go­ing 30 yards (too) long. It wasn’t easy, but I played well so I’m very happy.”

Other top seeds weren’t so for­tu­nate in the wind.

Justin Thomas, who al­ready has won three PGA Tour events this sea­son, lost his match to Kevin Na. It’s Na, the No. 46 seed, who now is in con­trol for the spot to Satur­day’s round of 16 be­cause he’s 2-0 so far.

Pa­trick Reed, who is seeded ninth, lost to Kevin Kis­ner, one up. It was Reed’s sec­ond straight loss, so he’s out of the run­ning for the round of 16.

Fourth-seeded Hideki Mat­suyama dropped his match to Ross Fisher to go 0-1-1 for the tour­na­ment.

And de­fend­ing Mas­ters cham­pion Danny Wil­lett lost his sec­ond straight match. He’s the 11th seed. He lost to Bill Haas 6 and 5.


World No. 1 and top Match Play seed Dustin John­son moved to 2-0 by knock­ing off two-time ma­jor cham­pion Martin Kaymer, 3 and 2.

Ryan Moore halved his match Thurs­day against Hideto Tani­hara to move to 0-0-2. He’ll face Jor­dan Spi­eth in Fri­day’s third round.

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