AUSTIN, Texas - Jason Day completed six holes at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship before he simply couldn't play any longer, then walked off the golf course.
As it was past year to guarantee that every golfer competes in three matches, the field is divided into pool play, with 16 groups of four golfers.
McIlroy has yet to win on the PGA Tour this year, although he's finished seventh or higher in his last three starts. Spieth's best result in the WGC-Match Play came when he lost to Ernie Els in the 2014 quarterfinals and he has never won a WGC title. They have cautiously been given more hope. Previous year at Austin Country Club, he posted a 7-0 record, including a 5-and-4 rout of Oosthuizen in the final.
Unfortunately for the Australian tilt at Austin, Day drew compatriot Marc Leishman, who he will battle on Friday, as well as England's Lee Westwood and American Pat Perez. Kuchar could be looking at a Round of 16 matchup vs. world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (+900), who has won his past two stroke-play tournaments. It's terrible news for one of the good people and players in the game. He has a 15-9-2 mark in match play as a pro and a year ago in this event he turned back his first six opponents including Johnson and Spieth before Day took him out in the final, 5 and 4.
He is trying to join Woods (2003-04) as the only back-to-back winners of this most unpredictable event.
ICC Test Ranking: Cheteshwar Pujara Climbs to 2nd; India Remain First
Meanwhile, the race between Australia and South Africa to grab the second spot in the Test rankings has become interesting. South Africa can take over, if Australia lose, and they either draw or win the Hamilton Test against New Zealand.
Day and McIlroy are among just three past champions of this event.
On a Dove Mountain course in the high desert of Arizona that favored big hitters, Wilson eliminated Johnson in back-to-back years.
Day 5: Semifinals and final: 9am local time (7.30pm IST). The Round of 16 and quarterfinals are on Saturday and the semifinals and final (and third-place match) on Sunday.
With its deep pot bunkers, undulating turf and dramatic fairway falls, the course's extensive use of massive limestone slabs, quarried on site, to build revetments for tees, greens and fairways create a "target golf" challenge that is flawless for the risk-reward aspects of match play. Reed reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship in England before George Coetzee of South Africa beat him, 2 and 1. Over the last 10 years, the worst seed to win was No. 21 (Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan). Has had two top 5s on this side of Atlantic already this season, has played in the event before where he won, lost and halved matches, and let us not forget his outstanding performance at the Ryder Cup previous year.