Westwood claims Spieth scalp
Lee Westwood eliminated Masters champion Jordan Spieth to reach the last 16 of the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship in San Francisco.
With Spieth and Westwood both winning their first two matches of the group stages, Friday’s head-to-head battle was a straight knockout affair.
Spieth made a fantastic start, winning the first two holes to go 2-up, but Westwood fought back superbly to get it back to all-square and then pounced to go 1-up on the 17th, holding on for the big win.
World No 1 Rory McIlroy found himself in a similar head-to-head battle with Billy Horschel, needing to win to advance, and the Northern Irishman was also able to rally, coming from two down after 16 to beat Horschel on the 20th hole.
McIlroy holed from 25 feet for birdie on the 17th to keep the match alive and also birdied the 18th to send the match to extra holes.
A par at the second extra hole proved enough to see him through when Horschel failed to get up and down from off the green.
In reference to his putt on 17th, McIlroy told reporters: “I drew on the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles to a putt I hit with Sergio. Both were ‘Make it or go home.”‘
McIlroy goes on to face Hideki Matsuyama in the last 16, while Westwood will face stablemate Danny Willett.
“It feels great obviously,” said Westy. “There are no easy matches out here and I knew Jordan was going to be tough to beat.
“(I was) sliding down the bannister at the start, two down after two, and just had to regroup and fight back after that.
“Anything can happen (now). Getting out of the group was really one of the toughest things to do this week. Sometimes your fate was out of your hands but fortunately I won all three games and I am very excited about tomorrow morning.
“I will try to come out and play as good as I played today and keep holing putts.”
Other results saw South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen beat Bubba Watson on the 19th to set up a clash with Rickie Fowler.
Former champion Hunter Mahan advanced to the knockout stages with his third win, defeating compatriot Matt Kuchar 5&4 in group 14.
The only three-man sudden death play-off required on Friday as a result of a tie was in the group featuring Branden Grace, Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman, and it was Grace who emerged victorious to advance.
Saturday’s Round of 16 match-ups (rankings included):
Rory McIlroy (1) v Hideki Matsuyama (16)
Charl Schwartzel (38) v Paul Casey (37)
Lee Westwood (27) v Danny Willett (49)
Branden Grace (39) v Tommy Fleetwood (57)
John Senden (65) v Hunter Mahan (32)
Marc Leishman (60) v Gary Woodland (52)
Louis Oosthuizen (30) v Rickie Fowler (13)
Jim Furyk (5) v J.B. Holmes (12)
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