Two hard-fought wins at the World Golf Championships-Match Play have ensured Marc Leishman a safety net as he prepares for a showdown with American superstar Bryson DeChambeau.
Lower-ranked opponent Russell Knox, from Scotland, took World No.18 Leishman to the 18th hole at Austin Country Club but the Australian secured a two-up victory.
Leishman is in the driver's seat in his group with two points, backing up his day one win over Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
The Victorian now faces World No.6 DeChambeau on Friday needing only to halve the match to advance to Saturday's round of 16.
Even if he loses to American DeChambeau, who has one point, Leishman is guaranteed a sudden-death play-off to try and advance to the first round of elimination.
But 35-year-old Leishman says he won't be complacent knowing DeChambeau has won four PGA Tour titles in the past nine months.
"I guess there is a safety net but I won't be thinking about that; I will be approaching the match as if I have to win to get through," Leishman told AAP.
"Bryson is a great player and he has showed that over the past couple years. I'll have to be on my game to beat him.
"He has a lot to play for and will be a tough opponent. I really don't want to have to go to a playoff, so it would be nice to take care of that in 18 holes."
RIGHT: Jason Day is unable to advance to the knockout phase but will still have to play Phil Mickelson tomorrow. PHOTO: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.
Leishman's fellow Australians Cameron Smith and Jason Day, however, are guaranteed not to make it out of their respective groups.
Day, a two-time WGC-Match Play winner, and Smith each suffered a second straight loss – ensuring the Queenslanders cannot advance to the knockout phase despite having to play Friday's third-round matches.
Former World No.1 Day lost his first hole to Swede Henrik Stenson and never recovered during a 4 and 3 loss to the former Open champion.
Day aggravated a back injury in his round-one defeat to 48-year-old Jim Furyk but still has to play five-time major winner Phil Mickelson.
Smith lost 3 and 2 to Abraham Ancer, the reigning Australian Open champion from Mexico, and will face off against pool rival Paul Casey on Friday.
Casey halved his match with Charles Howell III and the pair lead their group with 1.5 points.
Day and Smith were among 20 players eliminated from the event before Friday's third round.
Three-time WGC-Match Play winner Tiger Woods was beaten 2 and 1 by Brandt Snedeker, while 2015 winner Rory McIlroy bagged a second point with a 3 and 2 win over Justin Harding.
Sergio Garcia downed Andrew Putnam 5 and 4 while Jordan Spieth defeated Kevin Na 3 and 2.
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press