World Rankings: Europe on the move
After two days of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, there are only three top 10 seeds left – and all are European.
After two days of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson there are only three top 10 seeds left – and all are European.
Martin Kaymer has another chance to take the world number one spot this weekend following Lee Westwood’s second round defeat to American Nick Watney yesterday.
And either Graeme McDowell or Luke Donald, meanwhile, could be world number three by Sunday night after they also made it into the last 16.
Donald, the ninth seed, faces another Italian job on Friday. After knocking out Ryder Cup team-mate Edoardo Molinari he now faces 17-year-old Matteo Manassero, a rising star if ever there was one.
McDowell, meanwhile, takes on Korean YE Yang knowing that even if he loses he will move ahead of Tiger Woods – beaten by Thomas Bjorn in the firast round on Wednesday – on the world rankings list.
“If someone told me at some point in my career I would be number three in the world I’d be proud of that fact,” said the Northern Irishman.
“I’m perhaps a better golfer than Tiger in the last 12 months, but he’s definitely the greatest player that’s ever lived I think and it would be nice to slip past him for a little while.”
The US Open champion found himself being asked as many questions about 21-year-old compatriot Rory McIlroy as he did about his own victory over England’s Ross Fisher.
McIlroy was crushed 8&7 by an inspired Ben Crane and only Canadian Stephen Ames has ever suffered a bigger defeat in the event. Ames lost 9&8 to Woods five years ago.
“I can’t really get my head around that right now,” commented McDowell. “This golf course sets up for the Rory McIlroy-type driver of the ball and Ben Crane is not really known for length, but a guy who is just holing everything on you can wear you out.
“I think Rory’s looking inside as to how he can continue to get better. Everyone’s career is going to have setbacks and this is just a mini-setback.
“As long as he can learn and put what he learns to good use it’s only a matter of time in my opinion until he becomes a phenomenal player and a prolific winner.
To go to number one Kaymer has to reach the final.
The German, who needed two extra holes to get past Justin Rose, now takes on Hunter Mahan, who is no push-over, by any means.
Dove Mountain is considered a course for big hitters, but Ian Poulter won last year and Donald’s style – Woods once described him as a “plodder” – is serving him well so far.
“I can’t overpower this course – I have to take the long route round,” Donald said. “But if I can play my golf and play consistently that puts the pressure on my opponents and they try to force the issue a bit.”
Manassero is very much in the same mould and both McDowell and Miguel Angel Jimenez, Europe’s other survivor, are not bombers either.
Jimenez, 47 last month, is up against Crane for a place in the quarter-finals.
Westwood also lost to Watney last year and has now played the tournament 11 times without ever getting to the third round.
A shocking three-putt bogey on the 16th cost him dear and the Worksop golfer said: “I putted very poorly all day. The game’s in good shape, but I’ve just not worked a lot on my putting and it showed.”
McIlroy, meanwhile, wrote on his Twitter site: “Well that wasn’t the plan! Ben played great today, I didn’t do much to put him under pressure!”
Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els also tumbled out, Mickelson 6&5 to America’s great young hope Rickie Fowler.
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