No trouble for Jason Day after back injury scare
World number two Jason Day erased concerns about his fitness in remarkable fashion but Daniel Berger's WGC-Dell Match Play challenge came to a bizarre end on Thursday.
Day injured his back in the closing stages of his opening victory over Graeme McDowell at Austin Country Club and was not sure he would be able to continue in the £6.75million event, especially with the Masters just a fortnight away.
However, the 28-year-old not only defeated Thongchai Jaidee to take a step closer to the last 16, but did so in emphatic style after starting by driving the green on the 381-yard first hole and holing from 12 feet for an eagle.
Day went on to beat Jaidee 5&3 and just needs to avoid defeat to Paul Casey on Friday to finish top of group two. Casey and McDowell cannot advance after halving their match on Thursday.
Asked about the injury, Day told PGA Tour Video: " It's not too bad. Yesterday was definitely sore.
"I've had it before and know what the protocols are for me when these things pop up. It's a disc and when it gets inflamed everything goes into spasm and I can't really move and it's really difficult to play golf.
"I did a lot of therapy yesterday and made sure I did the protocols every hour. I slept on a heating pad and came out today not really knowing if I was going to play or not. I warmed up really nicely on the range and decided to give it a shot and came out and felt okay."
Day added on Sky Sports: "The biggest thing for me was to see this morning if I was protecting it and then (if so), to pull out and focus on Augusta. I was hitting some great shots with my driver on the range and it obviously showed when I drove the first green."
Berger's match with Phil Mickelson had reached the 18th all square, only for the 2015 PGA Tour rookie of the year to pull his tee shot towards the rocks which form the basis of the first tee.
The 22-year-old looked to be able to make clean contact with the ball, but caught one of the rocks on his downswing and missed the ball entirely, damaging his wrist in the process.
After being forced to concede the hole and the match, Berger told reporters: "I don't even know what happened. I took a couple of practice swings and thought I had a clear swing.
"I guess it was on the downswing. I made a full swing and the club came out of my hands. It was kind of a shock. I have a good physio team so I will go to see them and hopefully I am good to go tomorrow. If not I will try to get ready for the Masters."
A second win of the week for Mickelson set up a clash with Ryder Cup team-mate Patrick Reed to decide who would win the group, Reed having beaten Matt Fitzpatrick 4&3.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy defeated Smylie Kaufman 3&1 to set up a group-three decider against Kevin Na, the American beating Thorbjorn Olesen 3&2.
McIlroy admitted he felt fortunate to beat Olesen on Wednesday after the Dane squandered a two-hole lead with five to play, but told Sky Sports: "I played much better today.
"There were still a couple of mistakes in there but for the most part I hit better shots. I think I made four birdies in the first six holes and a couple on the back nine as well so the quality of golf was much better - and I needed it to be because Smylie played quite solidly."
England's Danny Willett, who finished third last year, was a surprise early casualty after losing 3&2 to Billy Horschel, while two-time major winner Martin Kaymer was thrashed 8&6 by Open champion Zach Johnson.
However, if Kaymer beats Marcus Fraser on Friday and Johnson loses to Shane Lowry, the pair would face a sudden death play-off to advance to the knockout stages.
World number one and Texas native Jordan Spieth eased to a 5&4 victory over France's Victor Dubuisson and only needs to avoid defeat to his good friend Justin Thomas on Friday to reach the last 16.
England's Andy Sullivan will face former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen to decide the winner of group three after the pair enjoyed wins over Matt Jones and Bernd Wiesberger respectively, but Chris Wood was eliminated after losing to Adam Scott.