The Texan was not quite at his best, but he won easily in the end against the erratic Frenchman and now needs just a half against former college and junior golf pal Justin Thomas today to guarantee himself a playoff, at worst, if Jamie Donaldson wins.
Thomas was eliminated when he lost for the second time, falling two up to Jamie Donaldson at Austin Country Club.
Expecting a tough tussle with his former junior and college golf rival, Spieth joked: “I might ask Justin if he wants to just halve the match. I doubt he’ll want to do that. He’ll want to beat me.
“But, no, I don’t think it changes the strategy at all. Ultimately you’re trying to get where you’re dormie at some point in the match.
“If that becomes the case, then it might be really interesting, because I’ve never experienced something like that. Hopefully, we have that opportunity tomorrow.”
Phil Mickelson also won his second match in a row, seeing off Patrick Berger on one up after the youngster conceded on the 18th after having a fresh air trying to escape from a difficult position and succeeding only in hurting his hand. The left hander now takes on Ryder Cup team-mate and Presidents Cup partner Patrick Reed in a winner-takes-all affair.
It’s going to be a difficult match. A difficult challenge but a fun challenge. A fun opportunity to play against him. I’ve got to bring the game that I brought the first day, rather than today.
“I enjoy being with him,” Mickelson said. “I’ve enjoyed our team events, the time that we’ve had together, and I’m going to enjoy the opportunity to compete against him tomorrow.
“It’s a good position to be in, to have an opportunity to move on to the weekend, but a very difficult obstacle in front of me.”
Ireland’s trio of contenders were involved in tight tussles, with Rory McIlroy two up with three to play against Smylie Kaufman, having trailed by one hole after 11.
Shane Lowry was three up after eight holes against Australia’s Marcus Fraser, hitting a wedge stone dead at the first, holing a 44-footer at the second, and then draining a 10-footer at the eighth.
However, Fraser hit back to level, winning the 10th with a birdie, the short 11th in par and 14th with a 40-footer.
Jason Day showed no ill- effects from his back injury as he led Thongchai Jaidee three up through 10. After losing to Day on Wednesday, Graeme McDowell needed a win to keep his hopes alive and led Paul Casey two up after 10.
Andy Sullivan beat Matt Jones two and one and now takes on Louis Oosthuizen for the last 16 place after the South African beat Bernd Wiesberger two and one.