Jason Day admits his injured back started to feel better during a comprehensive loss to Henrik Stenson on day two at the World Golf Championships-Match Play, which ensured the Queenslander will not make it out of the group stage.
Day has a history of back injuries which resurfaced when he was forced to withdraw mid-round from the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, citing a partially torn disc.
He posted a creditable tie for eighth at the Players Championship two weeks ago but Day's back ailment flared up again during his upset first-round loss to 48-year-old Jim Furyk on Wednesday.
Day received intense treatment immediately after the loss to Furyk before getting through 15 holes at Austin Country Club on Thursday.
Former World No.1 Day was no match for former Open champion Stenson and cannot advance to the Round of 16 on Saturday.
Day was clearly frustrated at his back preventing him from going deep at the match play event he won in 2014 and 2016.
But with the Masters at Augusta National two weeks away, it is a positive sign Day was able to continue playing at the 64-man tournament.
"Yesterday was more disappointing than today," Day told AAP.
"After (aggravating the back injury) I was just focused on playing some decent golf today and seeing where my game was at."
RIGHT: Stenson defeated Day 4 and 3 at Austin Country Club. PHOTO: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.
Stenson will face off with Furyk on Friday with the winner advancing to the knockout phase.
"I know his back is a bit fragile at times and he's had issues in the past," Stenson said of Day.
"He didn't complain (of any pain) but I hope he can get it sorted as soon as possible."
Although Day only played six holes before withdrawing from the Palmer event three weeks ago, he contested the Players the following week before last week's Valspar Championship.
The WGC-Match Play is a rare fourth consecutive week of competition for Day.
"For me to hurt it before Bay Hill when I had a few tournaments coming up, even though I had some injections around my spine, made it tough to keep the body going," he said.
Day now has a dead-rubber match against five-time major winner Phil Mickelson in Friday's third round.
Mickelson also lost his first two matches and will join Day in exiting the $10.25 million (AU$14.4m) WGC event regardless of the result of their match.
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press