McDowell through; Westy out

Graeme McDowell won the battle of Northern Ireland’s newest golfing icons, but Lee Westwood crashed out.

Graeme McDowell’s fears that Rory McIlroy would dominate him in Friday morning’s last-16 round at the Volvo World Match Play Championship at the Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Andalucia, Spain, never materialised.

The US Open champion took the lead from the start in this clash of Northern Ireland golfing giants and was never headed, the World No 5 first going to 4-up and then after a visibly frustrated McIlroy, the World No 6, had managed to get two back with a brace of birdies, McDowell finished off the duel for a 3 & 2 win with a telling putt from the fringe at the 16th.

On Thursday. after he learned that his good friend McIlroy would be his next opponent, McDowell had spoken of how he had often been “beaten up” by his younger compatriot in practice matches, but their first face-to-face match play confrontation proved to be a different kettle of fish.

An unusually agitated McIlroy’s problems began immediately when he three-putted to fall behind and it was also clear there that he had no intention of being generous.

After being asked to hole from around three feet there, McDowell was then made to putt out from an even shorter distance at the next for a half.

McIlroy hit his second into the lake on the long third to go two down and the gap went to three when he three-putted the par five eighth.

He did manage an 18 footer from just off the ninth green, but it was only for a half with McDowell holing from five feet, and even though he was the closer of the two at the 11th McIlroy was the one to miss.

McIlroy said: “I missed five chances in the middle that really cost me. It was a great battle, but I couldn’t get a putt to go in.

“I was getting very frustrated – when you are going against someone of that calibre you need to take your chances.”

On not conceding a number of short putts he added: “You can’t give anyone anything” and on the lack of the usual chat between them he said: “I wasn’t going to really engage in any conversation – that was the plan from the start – and it looked like he had the same idea.”

The battle of the Ulsterman was not the only all-Ryder Cup meeting in the last 16, and in the other, an all-English duel, World Number One Lee Westwood, who had looked unstoppable coming into the weekend, trailed Ian Poulter by two with five to play.

Westwood did fight back with unmatched birdies at the 14th and 15th that took him to an all-square situation again, but unfortunately for the World No 1, who has a history in match play of starting strongly, but not finishing well, he then saw Poulter, who had only wobbled into the round with two halves in the round robin series, post an unmatched birdie two at the short 17th and then match his par at the last and grab an unexpected 1-hole win. .
His defeat should give extra momentum to Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer who both went through to the afternoon quarter finals knowing that victory here in Sunday’s final will hoist them to the top of the World Rankings list at Westwood’s expense.

Kaymer trailed 1-down after the first hole, but in the end the German US PGA champion comfortably beat Dane Søren Kjeldsen 3 & 2.

Donald, already this year’s WGC-Accenture Match Play champion, trailed Swede Johan Edfors by two with three to go and had to win the next two holes to level the score before going on to edge out Edfors by capturing the 19th when play was extended.

Like Westwood, fellow Englishman Ross Fisher, the defending champion, also went out – but only after a stunning finish in his match against the reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

Two down with two to play – he had came from four down to beat American Ryan Moore in an earlier match – Fisher birdied the 17th and eagled the last after hitting a fairway wood to ten feet, but the South African, arguably his country’s top golfer right now, followed that wonderful shot with an even better one and only needed to hole from five feet for a matching eagle and one up victory.

In other matches on Saturday morning, Italy’s Francesco Molinari beat Australian Aaron Baddeley 3 and 2 and Belgian surprise package kept himself on the winning g track by defeating Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas on the last.

Last 16 results
(3) Martin Kaymer (Ger) bt (22) Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 3 & 2
(19) Noh Seung-yul (Kor) lost to (11) Alvaro Quiros (spa) 1 hole
(18) Ross Fisher lost to (7) Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 1 hole
(4) Graeme McDowell bt (5) Rory McIlroy 3 & 2
(2) Luke Donald bt (23) Johan Edfors (Swe) at 19th
(17) Aaron Baddeley (Aus) lost to (8) Francesco Molinari (Ita) 3 & 2
(20) Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) lost to (21) Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 1 hole
(1) Lee Westwood lost to (9) Ian Poulter 1 hole

Quarter final tee times

1320 Alvaro Quiros (Spa) v Martin Kaymer (Ger)
1330 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) v Luke Donald (Eng)
1340 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) v Graeme McDowell (Nir)
1405 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Ian Poulter (Eng)