US Open winner Graeme McDowell was the biggest name to fall by the wayside in Friday’s third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, losing 3 and 2 to South Korean Yang Yong-eun.
Yang took early control against the fifth-seeded Briton with three birdies in the first four holes and held off a late fightback before ending the match with a chip-in for birdie at the par-three 16th.
“He was a tough man to beat today and to be brutally honest, I was frustrated with my game all week,” McDowell told reporters after a sun-baked afternoon at Dove Mountain’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. “I hit a lot of average shots for me.”
However, the Northern Irishman was able to celebrate reaching the third round for the first time in five appearances and will move past Tiger Woods in next week’s world rankings.
“A lot of positives to take away from the week,” world No. 4 McDowell said. “It was my best ever performance in this tournament. Not saying much for me, but I really enjoyed the week.”
Yang, who overhauled Woods to claim his first major title at the 2009 PGA Championship, will next meet Matt Kuchar, who beat fellow American Rickie Fowler 2&1.
McDowell’s exit left the elite event with only one of the top five-seeds, top-ranked Lee Westwood and fourth-seed Phil Mickelson having been eliminated in Thursday’s second round.
Third-seeded Woods, a three-times winner of the Match Play, made a premature departure at the first hurdle on Wednesday.
German world number two Martin Kaymer, the second-seed, came from two down after 12 holes to beat American Hunter Mahan 2 and 1 in a high-quality encounter on Friday.
Mahan never trailed until his opponent coolly sank a birdie putt at the par-three 16th to go one up. The American then lost the match with a double-bogey at the 17th after his approach overshot the green.
Long-hitting American Bubba Watson became the first player to reach the quarter-finals at Dove Mountain, crushing twice champion Geoff Ogilvy of Australia 6 and 4.
British world No. 9 Luke Donald ended the fairytale run by teenager Matteo Manassero, beating the Italian 3 and 2, while pony-tailed Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez hammered American Ben Crane 7 and 6.
Donald will next meet American Ryan Moore, who scraped past compatriot Nick Watney after 19 holes, while the 47-year-old Jimenez takes on Kaymer.
With severe weather forecast for the weekend, the semi-finals have been brought forward to follow the quarters yesterday. The 18-hole championship final is scheduled for today.
REUTERS, MEXICO CITY
American Chris Stroud recorded a sizzling run of eight consecutive birdies before grabbing a three-shot lead in the second round of the Mayakoba Classic on Friday.
Two strokes off the pace overnight, Stroud fired a spectacular eight-under-par 63 on the El Camaleon course at the resort of Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya.
In pursuit of a maiden PGA Tour victory, the 29-year-old launched his red-hot birdie blitz at the par-four ninth before posting an 11-under total of 131.
“Everything sort of clicked over nine holes,” Stroud told reporters after ending the day three ahead of compatriot Kevin Stadler (66), Australian Cameron Percy (66) and South Korea’s Kang Sung-hoon (67).
Stroud was one shy of the PGA Tour record for consecutive birdies, Mark Calcavecchia having strung together nine in the second round of the 2009 Canadian Open at Glen Abbey.