Jason Day believes a "frustrating" Phil Mickelson is the biggest hurdle to overcome if he wants to advance from a star-studded group at the $10.25 million (AU$14.4m) World Golf Championships-Match Play in Texas.
Day's quest to add to his 2014 and 2016 WGC-Match Play titles was made considerably difficult when he drew veteran major winners Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Jim Furyk for the group stage at Austin Country Club.
Five-time major winner Mickelson has a tendency to hit wayward drives but is regarded as having one of the sport's greatest short games, often saving par from tough positions.
Former World No.1 Day's clash with the 48-year-old left-hander is not until Friday, his last pool match, but the Queenslander is already preparing for a round that will test his nerves.
"Phil can be frustrating because you think he's out of the hole (after an errant drive) but he never is," Day told AAP on Tuesday.
"Stenson and Furyk are straight hitters and aren't going to make too many mistakes.
"But Phil is tough because you have to assume your opponent is never out of the hole and with guys who don't always hit the fairway it's easy to be overconfident."
However, Day is an intimidating WGC-Match Play opponent courtesy of his world-class short game.
He has won 22 matches and lost 11 in eight appearances, although three losses were because he withdrew from the 2017 edition to be with his cancer-stricken mother.
"Match play is a good format for me; it's stressful and kicks you into survival mode," Day, who can become just the second Australian after Geoff Ogilvy to win three WGC events, said.
RIGHT: Day plays a practice round ahead of the WGC-Match Play in Austin. PHOTO: Warren Little/Getty Images.
"I've always used my short game to frustrate opponents but it will need to be sharper than it has been so far this year."
World No.18 Marc Leishman has also been dealt a tough assignment with his group containing Bryson DeChambeau, a winner of four PGA Tour titles in the past nine months, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Russell Knox.
"Bryson has been playing great but, with the top 64 players in the world, everyone here is a great player and I know I have to be on my game to get through," Leishman said.
Cameron Smith was the last Australian standing at the 2018 WGC-Match Play, claiming victory over Hideki Matsuyama en route to the quarter-finals.
"I like the battle about match play; in stroke play I tend to start too slowly whereas match play I'm fired up from the start," Smith said.
HOW THE WGC-MATCH PLAY WORKS
FORMAT: 64 players are seeded into 16 groups of four. Each golfer plays three pool matches between Wednesday and Friday, with the winner from each group advancing to Saturday's round of 16.
FINALS: Round of 16 and quarter finals played on Saturday; semis and final played on Sunday.
DAY ONE AUSTRALIAN MATCHES: Jason Day vs Jim Furyk; Marc Leishman vs Kiradech Aphibarnrat; Cameron Smith vs Charles Howell III.
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press