Jordan Spieth was battling more than just his opponent on Wednesday.
By the time his opening match at the Dell Match Play was over, he started to work things out.
The three-time major champion and University of Texas alum rallied after falling behind 3 down after five holes with birdies on two of the final three holes to halve his match against Billy Horschel and stay in contention for the knockout phase.
"I'm not looking to be validated or not validated, I'm just looking for progress. And I've made progress," Spieth said. "Today was the best I've played under pressure in a little while. I haven't been in the position to play under pressure for a little while. It was great to see that."
It's been stretch for the Texas native. He has yet to crack the top 25 this season and hasn't finished in the top 10 since last July when he lost the 54 hole lead at The Open Championship and finished in a tie for ninth.
He's 81st in strokes gained-putting and 123rd on tour in strokes gained tee to green. Translation: not good.
On Wednesday, he hit 11-of-16 greens in regulation and finished with 26 putts. He finished 37th out of 64 players in total strokes gained and 41st in strokes gained-putting.
"There's no spark that all of a sudden you just (fix things)," Spieth said. "One day at a time. One shot at a time. We're keeping our head down and trying to do that."
Kevin Na beat defending champion Bubba Watson 1 up in the other match in group 15, putting Spieth a half point behind in his group. The two face off tomorrow morning at 10:15 a.m. and Spieth faces Watson on Friday.
Tiger Woods picked up his first win at the match play in six years with a 3&1 victory over last year's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Aaron Wise.
Woods jumped out to a 2-up lead after two holes, but Wise birdied the par-4 ninth to square the match at the turn. Woods finished with two birdies and a bogey on the back nine and won three of the final five holes.
"We weren't playing that great today," Woods said. "We were both struggling. If this was a stroke play event, we'd be pretty far behind. But it was just trying to beat the guy in front of you and that was about it. I was able to do that."
Woods will face Brandt Snedeker - who halved his match with Patrick Cantlay - tomorrow with a win clinching him a spot in the knockout round beginning Saturday.
"Sneds and I have always been great friends," Woods said. "And it's going to be fun to play against him. He's a wonderful putter, as we all know, and in this format, that's what you need to do."
Nine of the top 10 seeds won their matches.
The only loser from that top group was Justin Thomas, who fell to Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard 3&2.