Mahan, Poulter set up tasty Match Play showdown

Reuters, MARANA, Arizona

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 - Page 18

Defending champion Hunter Mahan and 2010 winner Ian Poulter set up a mouth-watering showdown in the last four of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship by winning their quarter-finals on Saturday.

The US’ Mahan triumphed one-up after a tight match with US Open winner Webb Simpson, while Briton Poulter advanced with a commanding three-and-two victory over US veteran Steve Stricker.

The other semi-final will be contested between American Matt Kuchar and Australian Jason Day.

Kuchar became the first player to reach the last four, beating compatriot Robert Garrigus three-and-two, before Day battled past Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell one-up in a closely contested encounter.

However, most eyes will be firmly focused on the battle between Mahan and Poulter, who are both bidding to reach the Match Play final for a second time.

Poulter will be a little fresher, having gone four-up on Stricker after 12 holes before wrapping up his win by sinking a 10-foot par putt at the short 16th.

The flamboyant Englishman, who is renowned for his match play grit and superb putting, went ahead for the first time at the par-three third where he sank a double-breaking 40-footer for birdie, while Stricker missed his attempt from seven feet.

Stricker, who celebrated his 46th birthday on Saturday, had reached the quarter-finals with a sizzling eight-birdie display earlier in the day when he beat fellow American Scott Piercy one-up.

In the last quarter-final match out, Mahan and Simpson were all square after four holes before Mahan sank an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-four fifth to go one-up.

Simpson got back to level with a birdie at the eighth, but Mahan again edged in front when he rolled in a 26-footer to birdie the 10th.

Though Simpson pegged it back by sinking an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-five 13th, the match effectively turned at the short 16th where both players ended up in the left greenside bunker off the tee.

Simpson failed to get up and down, missing a 10-footer for par, while Mahan knocked in a seven-footer to go one-up.