Spieth finds his touch in Texas to beat Dubuisson

AUSTIN (Texas) • There was always the probability that familiar comforts were all Jordan Spieth required to kick-start his year. In his backyard of Texas, he is more the home star than the lone one.

Golf's world No. 1 requires just a halved match against his close friend, Justin Thomas, to progress to the knockout stage of the WGC-Dell Match Play.

Spieth has looked far more like his old, accomplished - and fear-inducing - self at the Austin club, a venue he does not so much recognise as recall as a routine stop from his youth.

He joked on Tuesday about the unusual sight of an Austin hotel room; he is more accustomed to "crashing on my buddies' couches".

Thursday's success was by 5 and 4 over Victor Dubuisson. Much like the Wednesday win over another European, Jamie Donaldson, he never looked in trouble. This time, the 22-year-old was three up after only five holes.

Spieth's confidence has been restored and in opportune time, with the Masters and a Green Jacket defence less than a fortnight away.

Tales of the American's demise following a run of no top-10 finishes from mid-January were always overstated. The sense he would relish proving as much should not have been underplayed.

"It's a great position to be in. There are no complaints on my side. I've been striking the ball great," he said.

World No. 2 Jason Day's appearance on the first tee looked in doubt during a gingerly warm-up session, the Australian having suffered from "searing" back pain during Wednesday's success over Graeme McDowell.

Day took to the course, drove the opening hole - downwind, but all 381 yards of it - and converted for an eagle. Beware the injured golfer, indeed.

He never let that advantage over Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee slip, claiming a point by a scoreline of 5 and 3. More importantly, there were no signs of physical impingement to the PGA Champion winner whatsoever.

Rory McIlroy secured a second win in as many days, this time with an improved performance as he saw off Smylie Kaufman by 3 and 1.

"My confidence is higher than it was," the world No. 3 said.

"My play definitely moved up another level. I feel good."

The biggest win of day two was for the Open champion Zach Johnson, who was a serious contender to claim the title even before an 8-and-6 win over Martin Kaymer.

Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson were all victors, too.

Mickelson's win was the strangest as his opponent, Daniel Berger of the United States, clipped a wall with his club during his downswing and missed the ball completely on the final hole. A two-word expletive, wrist injury and red face all followed for the unfortunate 22-year-old.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'Spieth finds his touch in Texas to beat Dubuisson'. Print Edition | Subscribe