Smith was the only one of the three Australians who played the event to make it through to the knockout matches, Jason Day unable to defeat Louis Oosthuizen in today’s match up and Marc Leishman’s chances effectively eliminated following his two earlier losses.
Smith, who is playing his first Dell Technologies WGC Match Play Championship, was able to birdie his final hole today to snatch an all-important halve in his match against the leading money winner on the 2017 Japan Golf Tour, Yusaku Miyazato, that ½ point enough to edge Smith clear of his three fellow group members.
"I mean, that's pretty big not having to do a playoff to get into the weekend," said Smith when acknowledging not having to extend his day. "That was kind of on my mind the last four or five holes there. To bring one back on the last hole was pretty special.
"I feel as though I've had three really tough matches. All three days I've played really well. The putter got a little bit cold there towards the end, kept hitting lips, but nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of practice."
A loss for the Queenslander in his match today would have meant facing Patrick Cantlay in a sudden death playoff for the right to advance to the Round of 16 but Smith was equal to the task and now moves into the weekend to play Hatton who defeated Brendan Steele in a playoff for the right to advance.
Even making it to the Round of 16 will ensure a cheque for close to $150,000 for the still only 24 year old but he no doubt has higher goals in mind.
If Smith was to beat Hatton on Saturday morning then he would face the winner of the Patrick Reed and Alex Noren match-up in the quarter-final on Saturday afternoon.
A win over Hatton tomorrow would also all but guarantee Smith a start at the Masters as it would move him inside the top 50 in the world. He might have done enough already in that regard.
Jason Day was eliminated after losing to Louis Oosthuizen who he had defeated on two previous occasions in this event, once in the final two years ago.
The Day / Oosthuizen encounter was evenly matched for much of the contest, Day actually 1 up through 14 holes before Oosthuizen birdied the 15th and 17th to take a one-hole lead to the 18th.
Both players all but drove the green at the last but when Oosthuizen was conceded a birdie the South African had won and earned the right to take on Jason Dufner in a playoff which he won.
Leishman’s match against Branden Grace was halved and he would finish last of his group after losing his opening two rounds. It was a much better effort from Leishman today however recording eight birdies against Grace although Grace would birdie his final two holes to win.
The result would make no difference to the outcome of the group however as Bubba Watson comfortably topped the four players.
Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, John Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama and Rory McIlroy were amongst notables to miss out on weekend play, Justin Thomas the only one of the event’s leading six ranked players through to the Round of 16.
NAME YOUR FAVOURITE AUSTRALASIAN GOLF DESTINATION
Want video tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to iseekgolf.com newsletters.