Friday, July 20, 2018

Spieth, Day, McIlroy lead Match Play final 16

AUSTIN, Texas — Rory McIlroy had to go 20 holes. Jason Day played only six. Both advanced Friday to the round of 16 in the World Golf Championships Match Play that is loaded with Americans.

The other member of golf's "Big Three," Jordan Spieth, got off to another quick start and sailed into the final 16 with a 3-and-2 victory over Justin Thomas. The No. 1 player in the world also is the top crowd pleaser at Austin Country Club, where he used to qualify for matches during his brief time playing for Texas.

Day was all square in his match when Paul Casey withdrew because of a stomach illness that had been bothering him since the event started Wednesday. Day was likely to advance anyway, but the short day allowed him extra rest for his back, which started bothering him Wednesday, and for the weekend ahead.

Day has played only 31 holes in three days. "If I can make it all the way through Sunday, that means I'm playing 72 holes on the weekend, which is a lot of golf," Day said.

McIlroy was in one of the four winner-take-all playoff matches between undefeated players in their groups after round-robin play was done. He struggled from the start of his final round-robin match against Kevin Na. McIlroy, the defending champion, didn't take the lead until the 15th hole, gave it right back, and both missed birdie putts on 18 to halve their match.

Their playoff ended on the second extra hole, when Na hooked his tee shot at No. 2 into a hazard and McIlroy holed a 6-foot putt for the win. McIlroy has won 10 straight matches dating to his victory last year at Harding Park in San Francisco.

"I was dying after 10 holes, but I knew I'd played the back nine well," McIlroy said. "It is a sign of relief. It's nice to get to the weekend."

With the field reduced from 64 after a three-day marathon, Match Play now is a two-day race to the finish, with two sessions of single elimination each today and Sunday. The final 16 has 11 Americans, the most since 12 in 2002. Phil Mickelson is not one of them.

In Mickelson's final match against Patrick Reed, Reed holed out for an eagle on No. 10 to go 7 up, and Mickelson did well to get to the 14th before Reed closed him out 5 and 4. Reed has not trailed in any match all week.

PGA: First-round leader Rafael Compos held on to the lead in front of his home fans in the Puerto Rico Open, shooting 1-under 71 in windy conditions for a one-shot lead at 9-under 135 in Rio Grande. He's the first Puerto Rican to lead a PGA Tour event since the 1979 Tallahassee Open, when Chi Chi Rodriguez was tied for the 54-hole lead and went on to win his eighth and final title.

George McNeill (71) was 8 under. Ian Poulter, playing the event after failing to qualify for the Match Play tournament, was in a group of seven at 7 under after 66, the best round of the day. Poulter is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 67.

LPGA: Jenny Shin took the lead in the Kia Classic at Carlsbad, Calif., shooting 7-under 65 to reach 10-under 134 for a one-stroke edge on Lydia Ko (67) and Brittany Lang (68), who was one of four first-round co-leaders. Of the other first-round leaders, Inbee Park (69) was 8 under, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (71) was 6 under and Ai Miyazato (72) was 5 under. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (73) was 1 over.