AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Jordan Spieth lost his match. Then he lost his No. 1 ranking.
Jason Day assured a return to the top of the world ranking Saturday when he advanced to the semifinals of the Dell Match Play. His reward is to face Rory McIlroy, who ran his unbeaten streak to 12 matches in this event and needs two more to join Tiger Woods as the only players to win in consecutive years.
Day advanced after considering withdrawing Wednesday night when his back seized up.
This is only the second time since the Match Play began in 1999 that the No. 2 (Day) and No. 3 (McIlroy) seeds have met in the semifinals.
Day and McIlroy were all square going to the back in their matches. Day won two of the first three holes to pull away from Brooks Koepka, closing him out on the 16th hole. McIlroy ran off four birdies in six holes for a 4-and-3 victory over Chris Kirk.
Louis Oosthuizen, who eliminated Spieth with a 4-and-2 victory in the morning, took advantage of Dustin Johnson’s blunders in the quarterfinals to win, 2 and 1. Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain also advanced to the semifinals by beating Ryan Moore, 2 and 1.
PUERTO RICO OPEN
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) — Ian Poulter shot a 4-under 68 at windy Coco Beach to take the third-round lead in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open.
Playing the event for the first time after failing to get into the Match Play tournament in Texas as the first alternate, the Englishman got up-and-down for par from a greenside bunker on the par-5 18th, holing a 15-foot putt. He’s winless since the 2012 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China.
Poulter had an 11-under 205 total.
Tony Finau, Jonathan Byrd and Steve Marino were a stroke back. Finau shot 67, Byrd 68, and Marino 69.
Puerto Rico’s Rafael Campos, the leader after each of the first two rounds, had a 72 to drop into a tie for fifth at 9 under with Scott Brown (67) and Aaron Baddeley (69).
CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Top-ranked Lydia Ko made three straight birdies early on the back nine in the Kia Classic and finished with a 5-under 67 to take a three-stroke lead.
Ko birdied Nos. 11-13 and closed with five straight pars to reach 14-under 202 at Aviara in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week in Rancho Mirage.
The 18-year-old New Zealander saved par with a 10-foot putt on the par-4 18th, and has played bogey-free since her second hole in the first round. She won five times last season and is coming off second-place finish last week in Phoenix in the Founders Cup.
Sung Hyun Park, Brittany Lang and second-round leader Jenny Shin were tied for second. Park had five straight birdies on Nos. 12-16, made a double bogey on par-5 17th, and closed with a birdie for a 68. Lang had a 70, making three birdies and four bogeys on the back nine. Shin shot 71.