AUSTIN, Texas -- Phil Mickelson became the first golfer to play his way into the round of 16 when he rolled past the wayward-hitting J.B. Holmes by a score of 6 and 5 on Friday in the early wave of the third round of pool play in the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.
Mickelson was later joined by 13 others, including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Spain's Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson and Brooks Koepka, who went undefeated and played their way into the single elimination rounds here after surviving pool play and, in five cases, either two- or three-man playoffs. Two more players garnered spots without even striking a ball in Friday's third round.
Mickelson, seeded 14th, needed just one birdie to beat No. 31 Holmes, who bogeyed the first hole, conceded the third, bogeyed the eighth, conceded the 10th and bogeyed the 11th to toss away his chances.
Mickelson won his first two matches easily as well and had not played past the 15th hole this week a scenario that could hurt him in the single-elimination matches to come.
"There's a good and a bad," Mickelson said about needing just 42 holes to advance. "I'm nervous that I haven't been in a match that has gone to the last hole or two and feel that clutch pressure, but also the good is that I have been able to conserve energy heading into this weekend. That is going to be a real key with four potential matches."
Johnson swept the first six holes in his match with No. 18 Jimmy Walker and won 5 and 3, completing a stunning run through the first three rounds in which he, too, has not played past the 15th hole.
Rahm, the 21st-seeded player, blitzed countryman No. 7 Sergio Garcia 6 and 4, to move on to the weekend. Rahm never trailed and had four birdies through 14 holes, not counting the 4-foot putt he had left on the two players' final hole when Garcia missed a lengthy birdie putt and conceded the hole.
"Sergio and I are friends and we knew it was going to be a great battle," Rahm said. "We knew we were going to have fun. And just the emotion, sentiment of both being from Spain, it really is something that made us want to beat each other a little more, and made it a little more special."
Koepka, seeded 20th, defeated No. 9 Patrick Reed, 1-up, while No. 11 Watson halved his match with No. 30 Thomas Pieters of Belgium to advance while No. 12 Paul Casey of England beat No. 24 Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, 4 and 3. Casey also went through pool play unbeaten.
No. 48 William McGirt outlasted No. 52 Andy Sullivan of England 1 up, to go undefeated in pool play. McGirt secured the victory with an approach shot on the 18th hole that ended up a foot from the cup.
No. 54 Hideto Tanihara of Japan defeated No. 37 Yuta Ikeda, also of Japan, in the process eliminating hometown favorite and world No. 5 Jordan Spieth.
In the final match of pool play, No. 44 Zach Johnson parred the 18th hole to beat No. 50 Brendan Steele, 1-up. All Steele needed to do to advance to the round of 16 was halve the match but he airmailed his approach on the final hole and bogeyed.
Others advancing Friday after playoffs were No. 28 Mark Leishman of Australia in two extra holes against No. 43 Lee Westwood of England and No. 56 Pat Perez; No. 42 Bill Haas upon beating No. 64 K.T Kim of South Korea in six additional holes; No. 61 Charles Howell III after outlasting No. 10 Tyrrell Hatton of England and No. 22 Rafa Cabrera Bello in five extra holes; No. 46 Kevin Na by winning the first extra hole against No. 49 Chris Wood of England; and No. 47 Ross Fisher of England in two sudden death holes versus No. 23 Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.
With 2-0 records and conceded matches with the withdrawn Gary Woodland and Italy's Francesco Molinari, respectively, on the schedule for their third rounds, No. 62 Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and No. 8 Alex Noren of Sweden advanced to the round of 16 without even hitting a shot in competition of Friday.
Round of 16 matchups on Saturday morning on one side of the bracket will be will be Dustin Johnson vs. Zach Johnson; Kopeka vs. Noren; Tanihara vs. Casey; and Watson vs. Fisher. On the other side, the matches will be Kjeldseon vs. McGirt; Howell III vs. Rahm; Na vs. Haas; and Mickelson vs. Leishman.
The winners Saturday morning will advance to the quarterfinals in the afternoon. The four-player semifinals will be Sunday morning followed by the championship and consolation matches in the afternoon.
NOTES: Twenty-two golfers had been eliminated from qualifying for the round of 16 before play began on Friday, most notably world No. 2 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama of Japan. Third-ranked Australian Jason Day pulled out of the event on Wednesday to be at side of his mother who had cancer surgery Friday. ... Only three players last year advanced to the round of 16 with a loss in pool play. ... No. 25 Francesco Molinari withdrew from the tournament after his round on Thursday with a wrist injury. ... Of the nine players making their Dell Technologies Match Play debut, three players -- Tyrrell Hatton of England, Jon Rahm of Spain and William McGirt -- had 2-0 records through two days. ... With his conceded win over No. 33 Gary Woodland on Thursday, McIlroy notched his 23rd career Dell Technologies Match Play victory, tied for third with Ian Poulter. His career record at this event is now 23-9-1. Tiger Woods has the most wins in tournament history with 33.