Classy Casey powers on

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Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Oliver Wilson will fly the English flag in the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson.

Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Oliver Wilson will fly the English flag in the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson.
Last year’s runner-up Casey, seeded sixth and the highest-ranked player left in, has still to go beyond the 14th hole after making little-known American Brian Gay his third 5&4 victim.
Poulter beat Indian Jeev Milkha Singh by the same comprehensive margin but Wilson was involved in a thriller with compatriot Luke Donald.
The Mansfield golfer, still seeking his first professional title, looked set to win on the last when he hit his approach close but Donald made a 50-footer for a dramatic half.
On the second extra hole, Donald was much the closer but Wilson rolled home a birdie putt from nearly 40 feet and Donald missed from less than 12.
Casey next plays Open champion Stewart Cink, second and third the last two years, while Wilson faces Sergio Garcia and Poulter is up against Thai Thongchai Jaidee, a 5&4 winner over young Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa.
Casey, who thrashed Canadians Stephen Ames and Mike Weir on the first two days, said: “I didn’t see that one coming – I thought it was going to be very close when I was behind after three.
“But it caught my attention and made me focus.”
A superb pitch to four feet on the fourth levelled things up and Casey then ran away with the contest around the turn with five more birdies in six holes.
Poulter, with a chance to go to a career-high fifth in the world by reaching Sunday’s 36-hole final, was the only other top 10 seed to survive the first two days.
He deliberately did not watch Tiger Woods appearing in public for the first time since November because he did not want to be distracted and it paid dividends.
An 11-foot birdie putt was the perfect start, but once again it was the middle section of the round that settled things.
Poulter went two-up with a 15-footer on the fifth, Singh bogeyed the eighth and 10th and then could not match Poulter’s birdie on the long next.
“I was pretty flawless,” he commented afterwards.
“There are a lot of top seeds gone out, although I don’t think that is much of a factor after seeing Ross McGowan (the 64th seed) beat Steve Stricker (number one) go out.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and a big weekend coming up. Top five in the world would be a great achievement – I’m excited and having fun.”
Cink had to make an 18-footer on the last to stay alive against South African Charl Schwartzel, then birdied the first extra hole for the win.
But Cink is the only American left in the last eight after defeats for Nick Watney, who lost at the last to South African Retief Goosen, and Ben Crane – a 3&2 loser against Colombian Camilo Villegas.
Garcia beat another South African in Tim Clark, who last year knocked Woods out of the event.

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