Monday 19 March 2018

Fowler's smash-and-grab victory denies luckless Lowry

Rickie Fowler won his match against Shane Lowry by one hole at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship
Rickie Fowler won his match against Shane Lowry by one hole at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship

William S Callahan

Tenacious Rickie Fowler refused to bow the knee to Shane Lowry in a tense and exciting Group 13 clash of the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship in San Francisco.

Lowry, buoyed by his narrow but deserved win over fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell in round one, knew he faced a tough opponent in Fowler.

He was neither surprised nor disappointed to find the American in typically bulldog mode, but had to contain his frustration as the match ebbed and flowed.

At two up after 12, Lowry looked as if he could gain control of the match.

Fowler, however, stayed cool, calm and collected, and rocked the Irishman by claiming the next two holes, arrowing long putts into the cup, and leaving them all square with three to play.

Lowry was in pole position to win 16, but Fowler holed another raker from 25 feet for a half and on they went.

On the 17th Lowry's superb chip hit the hole and ran past the hole, leaving the match still alive.

On 18, the Offaly native had to hole from a bunker and came up just short. Once again Fowler slotted his putt from five feet, and won the match by one hole.

Rory McIlroy showed his ruthless side as he turned the screw down the home stretch to dispatch Brandt Snedeker 2up after winning the 15th and 18th holes.

With two wins from two, the Holywood star will face Billy Horschel today for a place in the final 16 in a showdown that is sure to bring back memories of their ill-tempered clash in the 2007 Walker Cup.

"I know he is going to be amped up to play me and I am going to be amped up to play him," said Horschel after defeating Jason Dufner 3&2 yesterday.

"We have a track record together and when we have played each other we've played our best golf and I would not expect anything less tomorrow."

Graeme McDowell went down by 2&1 to Harris English, which means the Portrush man will not be around for the weekend.

One man with no such worries after two outings was former Masters champion Bubba Watson.

Watson had a 4&2 win over fellow American Keegan Bradley for his second point in the Group 4 round robin.

It sets up a key third-round match today against Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who Watson defeated in a play-off to win the 2012 Masters.

"I hit my driver well, but off the tee it sets up nicely for me. It's very relaxed.

"I see the shots and I was just trying to keep in out of the trees," said Watson.

Speaking of Oosthuizen, Watson commented: "He can play for sure. He's going to hit a lot of fairways. A great iron player and a great putter. It will be a big test for me tomorrow."

WGC-Cadillac Match Play

Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.0pm

Irish Independent

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