Luiten still unbeaten at Volvo
Dutchman Joost Luiten maintained his flawless record to seal a semi-final spot at the Volvo World Match Play on Saturday.
The only player to win all three of his matches in the pool stages, Luiten continued his good form in the last eight to eliminate Pablo Larrazabal, thrashing the Spaniard 6&5.
Larrazabal found water on the first to hand Luiten the hole and it was all one-way traffic from there. He won the second, fifth, sixth and seventh to move five up, then won the 11th to stretch his lead even further.
Larrazabal might have felt like it just wasn’t his day when he birdied the 12th only for Luiten to snatch a half with a 20-foot putt.
It was all over by the 13th, as Luiten closed out the big win.
Awaiting him in the semi-finals is Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, who claimed a 2-hole victory over Victor Dubuisson of France.
Ilonen led for much of the day before Dubuisson finally clawed his way back to level terms with a superb eagle at the par-five 15th.
But he followed that up with a disappointing tee shot at the 16th which led to a bogey, allowing Ilonen to complete the victory.
The other semi-final will see top seed Henrik Stenson take on South African George Coetzee.
Stenson outlasted his Swedish countryman Jonas Blixt to claim a 2-hole victory.
The Ryder Cup hero found himself as much as 3-up with just a few holes to go, but Blixt was able to narrow the deficit by winning both the 14th and 15th.
Stenson held his nerve over the closing holes, however, to seal the win.
“Everyone comes back at me,” Stenson said. “No one lets me have an easy finish here, which you kind of expect that but not every time. He definitely pushed an old man all the way to the last there and made it very interesting.”
His semi-final opponent Coetzee accounted for lone American Patrick Reed, winning three of the last seven holes to complete a 2&1 win.
Reed was one of the American team’s leading lights at the Ryder Cup, and has been in superb form, but he could do nothing to counter a brilliant display by Coetzee, who is closing in on the biggest payday of his career.
Coetzee only entered the tournament at the last minute after Thomas Bjorn’s late withdrawal.
“I wish I could get into every tournament as the last man if this is the golf I’m going to play,” he joked.
Coetzee decided to hang around rather than head back to South Africa after the Portugal Masters when he heard he was the first reserve.
He asked his manager to check if anyone was likely to withdraw.
“I told him the only guy who might was Thomas Bjorn because he was the oldest guy and he might be tired of playing golf,” Coetzee added. “He phoned me back and said the rumour was true and Bjorn had withdrawn. I told him it wasn’t a rumour, I had just made it up!”
“If my flight had been Sunday night it would have been a totally different story. It could be lucrative timing.”
Reed said: “I played well and any time you are six under you would hopefully win the match but George played extremely well.
“He beat me in extra holes in the Accenture Match Play earlier this year but that was a match where we both played really poorly and it was more of a pillow fight. Today was just one of those things about match play – even if you play really well you can still get beat.”
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