Monday 26 February 2018

McDowell run ends as Day gets job done

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

GRAEME McDOWELL'S roller-coaster ride through the Arizona desert came to a shuddering halt at Dove Mountain last night when he lost his quarter-final match to Australian Jason Day on the 18th.

Having beaten Shane Lowry in the third round earlier in the day, McDowell got off to a flying start in the quarter-final of the Accenture World Match Play and was two up after just three holes before bogies on the fourth and seventh eroded his lead.

The pair traded blows until the par five 11th where a birdie from Day saw him take the lead for the first time in the match. McDowell responded with a magnificent approach to the 14th and although Day matched that shot, he missed his putt while McDowell holed his for birdie and they were level again.

McDowell hadn't been playing well and the combination of an errant drive and a poor bunker shot saw him fall behind again with just three to play.

A par three at the 16th was good enough to get McDowell back on terms and his gutsy golf was keeping him in the game. But the match took another turn on the 17th when Day set up a win with a stunning drive down the middle of the fairway while McDowell struggled to a bogey five.

Day's semi-final will be against Matt Kuchar who beat fellow American Robert Garrigus three and two to become the first player to reach the semi-finals.

After going two up early on, Kuchar never trailed in their quarter-final encounter at Dove Mountain and sealed victory with a two-putt par at the short 16th.

"I'm going to keep plugging away, wear guys out," Kuchar said after recording five birdies and three bogeys.

A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, Kuchar has reached the last eight in this tournament three years in a row.

Earlier in the day, McDowell brought an end to what was still a big week for Shane Lowry. The Northern Irishman made three birdies in a five-hole stretch to build a four-up lead at the turn and outlasted his friend, 3&2, to reach the quarterfinals.

Ian Poulter continued his irresistible form as he led the charge into the semi-finals.

Five months on from his superb Ryder Cup showing and three months since he claimed the HSBC Champions competition in China, the 37-year-old Englishman once again proved his match play prowess on a two-round day in Arizona.

Having stormed to a five and three win over Tim Clark in the last 16, Poulter was the first to secure a spot in the last four of a competition he won three years ago with a 3&2 over Steve Stricker.

Poulter was in fine form, making five birdies and an eagle at the par-five eighth to leave Striker little chance on what proved to be a disappointing birthday. Poulter himself made no secret of his confidence going into today's championship day.

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