AUSTIN, Texas -- Zach Johnson keeps playing golf as if he has somewhere he needs to be -- and quickly -- other than Austin Country Club.
The 16th, 17th and 18th holes at the home of the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship are but numbers and pictures on the scorecard. He has dominated his matches like the Golden State Warriors take care of NBA opponents.
He has trailed for only one hole so far through three days.
And he has played just 42 holes -- or six more than he'd play in two rounds.
"I feel very solid," said Johnson, the reigning Open champion who has advanced to the round of 16 after a dominating round-robin performance. "Obviously my scorecard speaks for itself. With the exception of the first hole yesterday, I've never been down in a match. I was down for one hole and then rallied.
"I'm not going to take this for granted. I've still got to be patient, still go out and execute. It's not going to be easy no matter who my opponent is tomorrow and the rest of the weekend hopefully. But I'm seeing my shots, my execution is there. I'm picking out good targets and I'm obviously putting pretty well."
McIlroy, the defending champion, had to play 20 holes with the playoff and knows what he's up against on Saturday morning. The tournament moves to the knockout stage with the possibility of two matches each day of the weekend for those who make it to the final.
"This is a golf course that sets up perfectly for Zach," McIlroy said. "It's his sort of golf course. Very much a precision course and that's his game. If he can get it in play, he's going to be very tough to beat."
Johnson has definitely been getting the ball in play. He hit every fairway and missed just a single green Friday. For the three days, he has made just three bogeys -- all three-putt greens.
Even when he hit the ball in the water Friday, Johnson managed to make par.
The 12-time PGA Tour winner defeated Shane Lowry 4 & 3 on Friday. On Thursday, after losing the first hole to Martin Kaymer, Johnson won six of the next seven holes and ended up with a crushing 8 & 6 victory. He won his first match against Marcus Fraser 4 & 3.
Because he's been so dominant, Johnson has yet to play the 16th, 17th and 18th holes.
So after concluding his match against Lowry, Johnson decided to play those holes on his own. (He also did play them during practice rounds.)
The good news for Johnson is he should be well rested. This can be a long week, and if he makes it to Sunday's final, that's seven matches over five days. Not having to play all the holes saves some mental and physical energy, though.
But then there is the other side of match play: Johnson has built no lead. He'll be even with McIlroy in the morning.
"Tomorrow is a new slate," Johnson said. "I don't have a 1-shot lead. I don't have a 1-hole lead. I've just got to go out and perform. If anything, I like the confidence. I like the fact that I'm hitting quality shots and getting rewarded."