WGC DellMarch 23, 2016

Match Play: Spieth, McIlroy and Day win, Fowler loses

Jason Day won his match with Graeme McDowell 3 and 2, but showed signs of a back injury on final hole

The top players generally were in form in the first round of group play at the WGC-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club on Wednesday, but none showed more perseverance than Jason Day.

Day, ranked No. 2 in the world and a wire-to-wire winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, beat Graeme McDowell, 3 and 2, after trailing by two holes early. Day fought back with five consecutive birdies to gain the lead.

However, on the last hole of their match, Day dropped his driver following his tee shot and clutched his lower back in pain. Day's agent Bud Martin issued a statement that said Day is preparing to play Thursday.

"I’m not going to say it rubbed salt in my wound when a guy is three up with three to go and then he starts hurting and is able to limp up and win the match, but it does put a salty edge in it for me," McDowell said. "Go down six holes ago if you’re going."

The world No. 1 Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, defeated Jamie Donaldson, 3 and 2. Spieth took the lead on the first hole and held it for the entire match. Rory McIlroy's match was closer, a 1-up victory over Thorbjorn Olsen.

The only two players in the top 10 to lose their matches were Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson. Fowler was edged by Jason Dufner, the winner of this year's CareerBuilder Challenge, 2 and 1. Johnson was defeated by Robert Streb, 3 and 2.

Phil Mickelson was among the most dominant players, beating England's Matthew Fitzpatrick, 5 and 4.