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Published: 10:58 | 25/3/16

McIlroy pleased with improvement

Northern Irishman beats Kaufman in Texas

Rory McIlroy improved the 'quality' of his golf to record a 3&1 victory over Smylie Kaufman at the WGC-Dell Match Play.

McIlroy had struggled against Thorbjorn Olesen on Thursday, triumphing when the Dane threw away a two-hole lead late in their contest, but was in better form in his clash with Kaufman.

The Northern Irishman trailed twice but led going into the turn, before winning three consecutive holes from the 13th to place himself close to victory, with Kaufman eventually conceding on the 17th.

"I played much better today," defending champion McIlroy told Sky Sports after his win at Austin Country Club.

"There were still a couple of mistakes in there, but for the most part I hit better shots.

"The course played differently today with the change in wind direction, but I think I made four birdies in the first six holes and a couple more on the back nine. The quality of golf was much better.

"I needed that, as Smylie played quite solidly. I was able to play well when I needed to and win those holes on the back nine."

Like McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson remain unbeaten in Texas.

The world number one defeated Frenchman Victor Dubuisson 5&4, while Mickelson beat Daniel Berger in somewhat bizarre circumstances, as the latter struck a rock whilst playing his second shot at the 18th, resulting in a wrist injury that ended the encounter.

Graeme McDowell and Paul Casey halved their match, ensuring that neither can progress past the group stage.

The tournament employs a round-robin format, with each of the 64-man field playing three group games ahead of a knockout phase that initially involves 16 players.

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Shane Lowry and Seamus Power both made fine starts to a rain-affected first day at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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