One way to speed up play in an often agonizingly slow game is to complete rounds several holes short of the clubhouse, as Phil Mickelson has been doing.
Mickelson advanced to the Round of 16 by winning his third straight match in a rout, this time, 6 and 5, over J.B. Holmes in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas, on Friday.
His two previous matches, victories over Si Woo Kim and Daniel Berger, ended with three and four holes left, respectively. The five-time major winner has not trailed in any of his matches.
Mickelson was not alone in making short work of a long week. Dustin Johnson continued to burnish his No. 1 world ranking with a 5-and-3 victory over Jimmy Walker. He won his first-round match, 5 and 3, too, while prevailing in round 2, 3 and 2.
“I’ve played pretty well, really solid every day,” Johnson said. “Today I made a bunch of birdies, no bogeys. You do that in match play you usually win.”
PGA Tour rookie Jon Rahm, the winner of the Farmers Insurance Open in January, was another to end his match quickly, 6 and 5, over friend and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia.
“We’re good friends, obviously,” the 22-year-old Rahm said. “It’s hard to battle each other like we did. I think it made it a little more emotional, special for both of us. We both wanted to win bad, not just for us, but for Spain in general. And I think that made it a little more fun for us.”
Meanwhile, the field continued to shed marquee players. Jordan Spieth halved his match with Ryan Moore, sending Spieth home early. Hideto Tanahara, who defeated Spieth in the first round, moves on from their group.
Hideki Matsuyama lost to Louis Oosthuizen, 6 and 4, and was eliminated, and Justin Thomas was bounced by Matthew Fitzpatrick, 2 and 1.
Here are the 16 remaining players and their matches for Saturday morning:
Dustin Johnson (1) vs. Zach Johnson (44)
Brooks Koepka (20) vs. Alex Noren (8)
Hideto Tanihana (54) vs. Paul Casey (12)
Bubba Watson (13) vs. Ross Fisher (47)
Marc Leishman (28) vs. Phil Mickelson (14)
Bill Haas (42) vs. Kevin Na (46)
Jon Rahm (21) vs. Charles Howell III (61)
William McGirt (48) vs. Soren Kjeldsen (62)