AUSTIN, Texas – The top three seeds won their first-round matches Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Match Play, but they earned their full point very differently.
Jordan Spieth jumped out to a 4-up lead through seven holes, then fought over-aggressiveness on the back nine when he made a few “brain dead” decisions. It still added up to a 3-and-2 victory over Jamie Donaldson to improve his Match Play record to 6-2.
“Everything is kind of coming together,” he said.
It might be coming undone for Jason Day, who won his match over Graeme McDowell, 3 and 2, but had to limp to the finish after tweaking his back on the 15th hole. Day didn’t speak to reporters afterward, but his agent issued a statement saying that he was “getting prepared to play” on Thursday against Thongchai Jaidee (1-0).
Rory McIlroy didn’t lead his match until it mattered most – after 18 holes. Despite some scratchy play to start the back nine, McIlroy won three of the last five holes to eke out a 1-up victory over Thorbjorn Olesen. He won the 18th with a par after Olesen shanked his wedge shot from behind the green.
"I didn't have my best stuff today, but I hung in there and hit the shots when I needed to," said McIlroy, who has now won 14 of his last 17 matches, dating to 2012.