Masters champion Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler were making putts from everywhere Thursday in the Match Play Championship in San Francisco.
Fowler survived a tough match and already secured his spot for the weekend.
Spieth rolled to another easy victory and still faces the prospect of going home on Friday.
Even with a round-robin format, this World Golf Championship added another layer of quirkiness. Spieth, top-seeded Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland and Bubba Watson are all 2-0 and face elimination matches. Fowler and John Senden have won their groups and next play what amounts to a practice round in the middle of a tournament.
And there will be eight matches — including Jimmy Walker against Ian Poulter — that are meaningless.
Fowler was all square in his match with Shane Lowry of Ireland when he made putts of 15, 18 and 30 feet — all to halve the hole — before making a birdie on the 18th to win his second match and lock up the best record in his group to advance.
“Definitely a stress reliever right there,” Fowler said.
“Must be nice,” Spieth said under his breath with a smile when told that Fowler was already in the round of 16.
The 21-year-old Texan had little room to talk. He is looking as dominant as his week at Augusta National, finishing off a 4-and-3 victory over hard-luck Matt Every with 10 straight one-putt greens that totaled about 120 feet. Four of those putts were to halve the hole, including a 20-footer at No. 8 and an 18-footer at No. 14 that swirled around the cup.
“After the one on No. 8 [20 feet], which was to tie the hole, he said, ‘When are you going to stop doing that?’?” Spieth said. “And then after I made the par putt on 14 [18 feet for a halve], I could see he was upset. And if I were in his position, I would have been very upset. Because that was bogus.”
Lee Westwood escaped with a 1-up victory when Mikko Ilonen missed a 4-foot putt. Westwood also is 2-0 and will play Spieth on Friday to determine who advances.
“It’s going to be hard to keep making this many putts and this many birdies,” Spieth said. “And I feel like I’m truly going to need that to beat him.”
McIlroy went the distance to beat Brandt Snedeker, while Billy Horschel had no trouble dispatching Jason Dufner.
McIlroy and Horschel are both 2-0 and play Friday to determine who advances to the weekend.
Senden joined Fowler as the only two players to lock up spots in the round of 16, when the Match Play returns to single elimination. He easily handled Bill Haas, and won his group when Henrik Stenson beat Brendon Todd. Senden already has beaten Stenson and Haas, who each have a 1-1 record.
Otherwise, the second day at TPC Harding Park brought out a strange element for match play — scoreboard watching.
J.B. Holmes went 19 holes to beat Russell Henley and then stayed on the course to watch the match behind him.
He knew Brooks Koepka had to win or else Holmes would be eliminated.
Lydia Ko sent her caddie up a pine tree behind the 14th green — and tumbled down the leaderboard Thursday in the North Texas Shootout in Irving, Texas.
Lydia Ko had a triple bogey after losing a ball in the tree and dropped 3 more strokes on the next two holes to put her career-long LPGA Tour cuts streak in jeopardy.
Coming off a victory Sunday in California in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, Ko finished with a 4-over 75 to fall 9 strokes behind leaders Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr and Sydnee Michaels.
On the par-4 14th, Ko’s second shot flew past the green and behind the tree. The top-ranked New Zealander tried to go over the tree coming back, but failed to clear it. She was given a penalty drop beneath the tree for an unplayable lie even though caddie Jason Hamilton was unable to identify the ball.
The 18-year-old Ko followed the triple bogey with a double bogey after hitting into the water on the par-4 15th and lost another stroke with a bogey on the par-4 16th.
Ko was tied for 117th in the 144-player field that will be cut to the top 70 and ties after the second round and to the top 50 and ties after the third.
The 54-year-old Inkster also shared the first-round lead last week in California and ended up tying for 15th. She won the last of her 31 tour titles in 2006.
Kerr won the Kia Classic in late March for her 17th tour victory.
Kerr and Michaels each had only 24 putts.
Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford was a stroke back at 67 along with Lexi Thompson, Natalie Gulbis, Maria Hernandez, Ryann O’Toole, Karine Icher, Sandra Gal, Gerina Piller, Wei-Ling Hsu and Alena Sharp.
Michelle Wie topped the group at 68.