Jordan Spieth to take on Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson in WGC-Dell Match Play
By Andy Charles
Last Updated: 23/03/16 4:30pm
Jordan Spieth will face two of Europe's Ryder Cup stars and one of his best friends in the group stage of the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas this week.
The draw for the opening round of the competition pitted Spieth against long-time friend Justin Thomas, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and France's Victor Dubuisson.
Dubuisson, Donaldson and Spieth were all rookies in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, won by Europe, although the world No 1 did not come up against either of them during that tournament.
Spieth and Thomas, both 22, played together for the United States in the Evian Junior Masters when they were coming through the ranks and also played in a high-profile match during their collegiate careers. They have also played three PGA Tour rounds together this season.
The draw was made by Texan golfing great Ben Crenshaw, and he said: "Jordan probably won't talk to me the rest of the week. They've played a lot of golf together. Obviously, they know each other very well. They're admirers of each other."
Rory McIlroy won the title last year, when the tournament was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, and he will take on two Americans - Kevin Na and Smylie Kaufman - as well as another friend from the European Tour in Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen.
"Thorbjorn is a good friend of mine. The first time I played with Thorbjorn was in Egypt in 2010. We've got a little bit of history," McIlroy said.
"Smylie, I really don't know that much about. I know that he got off to a great start in his PGA Tour career. As I said, no matter who you draw in this event, you know you're going to get a tough match."
Second seed Jason Day, coming off a win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last weekend, has been handed a tough draw against three players with plenty of matchplay experience.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, three times a Ryder Cup winner, former Volvo World Matchplay winner Paul Casey and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee will take on the in-form Australian.
The 16 group winners will progress to the knockout stage, with any group stage ties being resolved by a sudden-death play-off.
Group stage draw:
Group 1: Jordan Spieth (USA), Justin Thomas (USA), Victor Dubuisson (Fra), Jamie Donaldson (Wal)
Group 2: Jason Day (Aus), Paul Casey (Eng), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Graeme McDowell (NIr)
Group 3: Rory McIlroy (NIr), Kevin Na (USA), Smylie Kaufman (USA), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den)
Group 4: Bubba Watson (USA), JB Holmes (USA), Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Patton Kizzire (USA)
Group 5 Rickie Fowler (USA), Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Scott Piercy (USA), Jason Dufner (USA)
Group 6: Adam Scott (Aus), Bill Haas (USA), Chris Wood (Eng), Thomas Pieters (Ger)
Group 7: Justin Rose (Eng), Matt Kuchar (USA), Anirban Lahiri (Ind), Fabian Gomez (Arg)
Group 8: Dustin Johnson (USA), Jimmy Walker (USA), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Robert Streb (USA)
Group 9: Patrick Reed (USA), Phil Mickelson (USA), Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng), Daniel Berger (USA)
Group 10: Danny Willett (USA), Brooks Koepka (USA), Billy Horschel (USA), Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa)
Group 11: Branden Grace (Rsa), Russell Knox (Sco), David Lingmerth (Swe), Chris Kirk (USA)
Group 12: Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Kevin Kisner (USA), Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp)
Group 13: Sergio Garcia (Esp), Marc Leishman (Aus), Ryan Moore (USA), Lee Westwood (ENG)
Group 14: Zach Johnson (USA), Shane Lowry (Irl), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Marcus Fraser (Aus)
Group 15: Brandt Snedeker (USA), Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Danny Lee (NZl), Charley Hoffman (USA)
Group 16: Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Andy Sullivan (Eng), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Matt Jones (Aus)