Jordan Spieth delights home fans at WGC-Dell Match Play as big names exit
By Keith Jackson @KeithDJackson
Last Updated: 26/03/16 6:37pm
Jordan Spieth admitted he was feeding off the home support in Texas as he cruised into the last 16 of the WGC-Dell Match Play with a comfortable victory over Justin Thomas.
Spieth was a regular visitor to the Austin Country Club during his college golf career playing for the University of Texas, and he continued to draw the biggest galleries on the third day of the competition.
The world No 1 got off to a flying start against his close friend Thomas and was four up at the turn, although he was forced to wait until the 16th before closing out a 3&2 victory which earned him a clash with former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
Spieth birdied four of the first five holes, three of them for wins, and another at the ninth gave him a commanding advantage before Thomas won his first hole of the day at the 10th.
The reigning Masters and US Open champion should have closed out the match at the 15th, where a lapse in concentration resulted in a three-putt bogey which extended the tie, but a wild drive from Thomas at the next ended the contest.
"It certainly doesn't hurt to have this kind of support," said Spieth afterwards. "It was nice to get off to a good start and kind of get everyone going. As we got to this back nine here on the water, it was awesome, there were massive crowds and Justin and I both enjoy playing in front of that.
"Hopefully we'll team up in a lot of events going forward. It was a bit of an odd scenario, we've played against each other a couple of times in the past, but we're always rooting for each other. Now we were in a tricky situation, where I know he wanted to beat me pretty bad and that made it a tough match for us.
"Even after playing so great the first two days, it still felt like it was a win or go home, you don't want to rely on a play-off. It was a great start, birdieing one and two and that's very important to see a couple of putts go in early."
Oosthuizen ended the hopes of Andy Sullivan with a 4&2 win in a match that was all-square with seven to play before the Englishman pulled his drive out of bounds at the 12th and was forced to concede the hole.
Sullivan fell two behind when he bunkered his approach to 14, and he also conceded the 15th following another wayward tee shot and the South African duly booked his place in the last 16 at the next.
Patrick Reed produced one of the best performances of the final round of group matches with a crushing win over Ryder Cup team-mate Phil Mickelson which saw him top Group 9 with a perfect 3-0 record.
Reed won the first two holes as Mickelson struggled to get the ball in play, and a superb 45-foot putt for eagle at the sixth made it three wins in a row and took him into a five-hole lead.
He then holed his 95-yard approach for an eagle-two at the 10th which put him seven up with eight to play, although Mickelson did well to keep the encounter going for another four holes before succumbing to a 5&4 defeat.
Bubba Watson was the biggest casualty of the group stages as he blew a two-hole lead against JB Holmes, who went ahead with winning pars at 14 and 15 and held on over the last three holes to post a one-up triumph.
But it was Patton Kizzire who emerged as the winner of Group 4 when he edged a tight battle with Emiliano Grillo, and the young American will now face compatriot Ryan Moore in the last 16.
World No 7 Justin Rose crashed out following a 3&2 defeat to Matt Kuchar, while Rickie Fowler also failed to advance after being held to a draw by BMW PGA champion Byeong-hun An, who went on to beat Scott Piercy at the first hole of their sudden-death play-off.