Thomas nears No. 1 with another short round in Match Play

AUSTIN, Texas -- Justin Thomas is the top seed remaining in the Dell Technologies Match Play and is performing like one.

Thomas went only 13 holes for the second straight match in a 6-and-5 victory over Si Woo Kim, sending him to the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon and moving him one step closer to No. 1 in the world.

Thomas, the No. 2 seed at Austin Country Club, needs only to reach the championship match to overtake Dustin Johnson in the world ranking.

The only other top-10 seed was Sergio Garcia (No. 7), and he was eliminated in the fourth round Saturday morning by Kyle Stanley, 3 and 1. Stanley was one putt away from elimination in group play when he holed an 8-foot birdie putt, and then beat Paul Casey in a sudden-death playoff to advance.

He faced Thomas in the quarterfinals.

Ian Poulter won his fourth straight match, racing to a big lead against Louis Oosthuizen and holding him off to win in 17 holes. Poulter first was told reaching the quarterfinals would be enough to crack the top 50 in the world ranking and earn a Masters spot. Instead, he had to beat Kevin Kisner, a 1-up winner over Matt Kuchar, on Saturday afternoon.

At least he still has a chance.

Charles Howell III, who grew up a few miles from Augusta National but has not been eligible for the Masters since 2012, needed to win two matches Saturday to get into the top 50. This week is the cutoff for the Masters taking the top 50 in the world who are not already exempt.

Howell had a 1-up lead against Kiradech Aphibarnrat, only for the Thai to hole birdie putts of 8 feet on the last two holes to win.

Kiradech moved on to face Bubba Watson, who emerged a 2-and-1 winner over Brian Harman in the battle of Georgia southpaws.

Patrick Reed, one day after eliminating crowd favorite Jordan Spieth, wasn't particularly sharp for the second straight round and this time he paid for it. Alex Noren lost only one hole in a 5-and-3 victory, advancing to the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Noren has won eight of his past nine matches. He faced Cameron Smith of Australia, who recovered from losing the opening two holes to knock out Tyrrell Hatton on England, 2 and 1.