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Rory McIlroy is all smiles again after back to back wins

By Phil Casey

Defending champion Rory McIlroy made it back to back wins at the WGC-Dell Match Play with a 3&1 victory over American Smylie Kaufman.

When Kaufman found trouble on the 17th, he conceded the hole to give the Holywood man a 3&1 win which sets up a group-three decider against Kevin Na today after the American beat 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 said: "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."

Shane Lowry's clash with Marcus Fraser finished in a tie while a birdie from Paul Casey on the 17th hole ensured his battle with Graeme McDowell was halved.

Jason Day's back injury looked a thing of the past as he started his clash with Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee in remarkable fashion.

Day injured himself in the closing stages of his 3&2 victory over Graeme McDowell in their group match at Austin Country Club and received treatment before leaving the course.

Despite appearing to rub his back before hitting his tee shot on the first, the world number two promptly drove the green on the 381-yard par four and holed from 12 feet for an eagle to win the hole.

That set the tone as Day went on to claim a 5&3 victory.

Elsewhere, Lee Westwood kept his hopes of advancing to the last 16 alive by beating Australia's Marc Leishman on the 18th, a defeat which saw the Nedbank Challenge winner become the first player eliminated.

And Westwood's fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick soon became the second player to make an early exit as he suffered a 4&3 defeat to Patrick Reed following his previous loss to Phil Mickelson.

World number one and Texas native Jordan Spieth eased to his second victory of the week against France's Victor Dubuisson, the 22-year-old racing into an early three-hole lead and eventually completing a 5&4 win.

Martin Kaymer was thrashed 8&6 by Open champion Zach Johnson while Charl Schwartzel beat Charley Hoffman 3&2.

Justin Rose and Anirban Lahiri tied their match and it was the same story for Matt Kuchar and Fabian Gomez.

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