Rory McIlroy smashed a drive to within 4 feet of the cup on the 375-yard closing hole Thursday to clinch his second straight win at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas.
With a 2-up victory over Denny McCarthy, McIlroy led a parade of top seeds into the final round of group play at Austin Country Club.
Defending champion Scottie Scheffler had seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch in the middle of his match against Alex Noren for a 5-and-4 victory.
Patrick Cantlay (No. 4 seed), Max Homa (5) and Xander Schauffele (6) also won their matches as five of the top six seeds took a 2-0 record into Friday in a bid to win their group and advance to the knockout stage on the weekend.
• Brice Garnett returned to the course of his lone PGA Tour victory and played a clean round in a steady wind for a 6-under 66 and a share of the lead with Ben Martin in the Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic.
Garnett won the event in 2018.
Martin matched Garnett with a bogey-free round. They had a one-shot lead over Matt Wallace of England.
EUROPEAN TOUR: South Africans Darren Fichardt and Martin Vorster shared the lead at the Jonsson Workwear Open in Johannesburg after opening with 8-under 64s.
They were a shot ahead of Nick Bachem, Joakim Lagergren, Hennie O’Kennedy and Sebastian Soderberg.
BASEBALL: Jack Brennan, Tyler Attal and Drew Fallon all drove in three runs, and Dylan Azcarate and Brennan Kelley homered for Bates (7-2) in an 18-6 victory over Dean (1-10) in Franklin, Massachusetts.
SOFTBALL: Kelsey Sullivan broke a tie in the sixth inning with her second RBI single of the game, lifting Colby to a 3-2 win over Manchester University (5-4) in Clermont, Florida.
Abby Orso pitched a four-hitter to earn the victory, allowing one earned run.
In its second game of the day, Colby (6-4) was held to five hits in a 1-0 loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater (6-1).
MEN’S BASKETBALL: Providence hired Kim English as its head coach, quickly moving to fill the opening left after Ed Cooley moved to Big East rival Georgetown.
English, 34, was 34-29 in two seasons at George Mason, leading the Patriots to a 20-13 record this past season. It was the first time the school reached the 20-win milestone since 2016-17.
NFL: Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard signed the franchise tag, guaranteeing him $10.1 million in 2023.
Pollard amassed 1,007 rushing yards and 371 receiving yards with 12 combined touchdowns last season, surpassing recently released Ezekiel Elliott as the team’s primary runner. Pollard made the Pro Bowl for the first time.
• Kicker Ryan Succop was released in a move that will save the Tampa Bay Buccaneers $3.75 million on the salary cap.
Succop, 36, was coming off his worst season with the Bucs, connecting on only 81.6 percent of his field-goal attempts.
• The San Francisco 49ers signed free-agent defensive lineman Austin Bryant to a one-year contract. In four years with the Lions, Bryant had 65 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and one pass defensed in 33 games.
• The Las Vegas Raiders re-signed wide receiver Keelan Cole and signed free-agent cornerback Duke Shelley.
Cole caught 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown last season. Shelley started five games for the Vikings, with career highs of 31 tackles and eight pass breakups. He also had an interception.
• The Chicago Bears signed linebacker and special teams contributor Dylan Cole to a one-year contract.
EUROPE: Back as a starter with Portugal’s national team, Cristiano Ronaldo became the most-capped player in men’s international soccer, scoring twice in a 4-0 rout of Liechtenstein in qualifying for the 2024 European Championship.
Ronaldo converted a penalty kick and scored off a free kick while making his 197th appearance with the national team. He had tied Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa with 196 caps after coming off the bench in Portugal’s loss to Morocco in the quarterfinals of the World Cup last year.
• Harry Kane became England’s outright leading scorer by netting a first-half penalty in a 2-1 win at Italy. It lifted Kane to 54 goals for his country, one more than Wayne Rooney.
MIAMI OPEN: Sixth-seeded Coco Gauff opened her Miami Open with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Rebecca Marino and advanced to the third round, where she will face 27th-seeded Anastasia Potapova.
Gauff’s doubles teammate, world No. 3 Jessica Pegula, beat Katherine Sebov, 6-3, 6-1. Pegula next faces fellow American Danielle Collins.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Defending titleholder Shoma Uno of Japan edged American teen Ilia Malinin to lead the men’s short program at Saitama, Japan.
Uno opened with a triple flip and followed with a quadruple toe loop, double toe loop combination. He finished with a triple axel for a season-best 104.63 points, 4.25 ahead of Malinin.
Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea was third with 99.64.
Meanwile, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara became the first skaters from Japan to win the pairs.
Miura and Kihara were first after the short program on Wednesday and finished second in the free skate with 141.44 points, behind defending champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the United States.
But their two-day total of 222.16 points was good enough for a 4.68-points win over Knierim and Frazier, who scored 142.84 in the free for a 217.48 total.