Sport Golf

Monday 23 April 2018

Tom Lewis and Ian Poulter make last sixteen of Volvo World Match Play tournament

ENGLAND’S Tom Lewis beat Australian John Senden on his Volvo World Match Play debut in Spain today - and as a result put himself and defending champion Ian Poulter into the last 16.

Poulter defeated Senden on the opening day of group games, and as he sat out the morning action, he knew he would be through if his fellow Hertfordshire golfer got at least a half.

The 21-year-old, who led The Open as an amateur last summer and then won the Portugal Masters in only his third start as a professional, did better than that, but had to go to the final green.

Winning the third, fourth and sixth took him three holes ahead, but Senden threatened to turn things round when he birdied the 13th and 14th to level.

A poor chip cost him the next, Lewis made an 18-footer for birdie on the 16th, but three-putted the short 17th to be only one up again.

A half in par fives at the last, though, set up a clash between him and Poulter to decide who topped the group.

There were also early victories for Alvaro Quiros and Thomas Bjorn, but both had lost their first games and so were still not certain to make progress.

Quiros, having lost to compatriot Sergio Garcia, thrashed Japan's Tetsuji Hiratsuka 5&4, while Bjorn hit back from his loss to American Brandt Snedeker by beating South African Branden Grace - a three-time winner on the European Tour already this season, two of them in Volvo-sponsored events - with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, playing his 500th European Tour event, needed only a half against Camilo Villegas to go through - and that is what he had to settle for.

The former Open champion, who opened with a fine victory over the higher-seeded Peter Hanson, was two down with seven holes remaining and then almost aced the 224-yard 12th.

It appeared a huge error when he drove into a hazard down the 13th, but the Colombian followed him and three-putted for a double-bogey six.

Villegas took three more putts at the next to fall behind for the first time, levelled with a 10-foot birdie on 17 and had a 14-foot chance to snatch victory on the last after Lawrie had lipped out, but missed.

England's Robert Rock was giving a much better account of himself than he had on the opening day, leading Open champion Darren Clarke by one with five to play.

Rock, conqueror of Tiger Woods and world top three Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood in Abu Dhabi in January, had been crushed 7&6 by Justin Rose and could not afford to lose again.

In the other three morning matches South Africans Retief Goosen and Jbe Kruger were two up and one up respectively on Nicolas Colsaerts and Robert Karlsson, while Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello, having got the better of top seed Martin Kaymer, was two up after 13 on tournament outsider Richard Finch.

The Hull golfer, only 218th in the world, had qualified through his third-placed finish at last month's China Open because top two Grace and Colsaerts had already booked their places.

Karlsson birdied the last to grab a half with Kruger - and that made Graeme McDowell certain of going through because he had started his campaign with a win over the Swede, late replacement for the injured Paul Casey.

Cabrera-Bello was sure to top his group when he beat Finch 4&2, leaving Finch and Kaymer - separated by 209 places on the world rankings - to fight it out for the runners-up spot.

Rock was two up with two to play, but Clarke birdied the 17th from five feet to stay alive in the game.

Clarke failed to get up and down from sand on the last and lost by two holes to Rock.

It left the Northern Irishman needing to beat Rose just to get into a play-off between the three of them to decide which two carried on in the event.

Goosen, meanwhile, beat Colsaerts on the 18th to make sure of his place in the last 16, the Belgian having only halved with Charl Schwartzel yesterday.

Poulter wasted no time in gaining control of his match with Hertfordshire colleague Lewis, winning the first with par and long third with a birdie.

There was also a fine start by Villegas. He took three of the first four holes against Hanson, who had to win.

If Villegas won, he and Lawrie were both through and would have a sudden death play-off to determine who topped the group.

Rose birdied the first to lead against Clarke, another in need of victory to force, in his case, a three-way play-off.

Lewis was back to all square by the eighth and escaped with a half on the next when he holed his par attempt from 15 feet and Poulter missed his birdie chance from 12.

But the defending champion then made a similar length putt to regain the lead at the short 10th.

Clarke was in big trouble at three down after four and so was Hanson at four down after five, although he took the next two holes off Villegas.

McDowell was three up after five on Kruger and Finch all square with Kaymer after four.

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