Matt Kuchar became the first player to reach the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship when he ousted German world number four Martin Kaymer 4 and 3 on Friday.
Kuchar came from one down after three holes with a rock-solid performance at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club as Kaymer, beaten by Luke Donald in last year's final, perpetually struggled on the tricky greens.
World number 14 Kuchar struck his tee shot to within two feet of the cup at the par-three sixth for a conceded birdie to go one up before his lead was doubled when Kaymer three-putted from six feet to bogey the par-five eighth.
The consistent American then birdied the 10th and 11th to go four up before sealing the win on the 15th green after Kaymer missed a 9-footer for birdie to extend the match.
Soon after, Hunter Mahan completed another upset when he stunned U.S. Ryder Cup team mate and world number five Steve Stricker 4 and 3.
Mahan made nine birdies today including a 54-footer at the par-3 12th, giving him 16 birdies in his last 29 holes.
Lee Westwood got his revenge on Nick Watney and in the process moved a step closer to a shot at regaining the No. 1 world ranking. Westwood, eliminated in each of the last two years by Watney, birdied the opening two holes and pulled away when Watney missed too many short putts for a 3-and-2 win. The Englishman, who had never gotten out of the second round in 12 appearances before Thursday, still hasn’t trailed in a match this week.
Westwood will square off against Martin Laird, who defeated fellow Scotsman Paul Lawrie 3 and 1. Laird hasn’t trailed since the fourth hole of his opening match on Wednesday, a stretch of 48 holes.
Peter Hanson advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in five appearances when he beat Brandt Snedeker 5 and 3. The American had closed to within one through 10 holes but Hanson birdied four of his last five holes. Hanson, one of the surprises of the week, will meet Mark Wilson in the quarterfinals.
Wilson, who has not trailed in a match since the third hole of the opening match on Wednesday, eliminated a struggling Dustin Johnson for the second straight year, 4 and 3. Wilson won four of his first six holes, then hung on the rest of the way, making birdie on three of his last four holes to seal the win.
Rory McIlroy only made two birdies in his third round match but closed out his 3and 1 win against Miguel Angel Jimenez with a flourish, hitting his approach on No. 17 to within four feet. The Spaniard conceded the birdie putt when he was unable to hole his own shot from off the green.
McIlroy will face PGA rookie Sang-moon Bae, who holed a five foot par putt on the 18th hole to win his match with John Senden, 1-up. The 25-year-old becomes just the third Korean to reach the quarterfinals in this event.
HOW OUR EXPERTS SEE IT... Through two rounds, Jeff Brooke has correctly predicted the winners in 30 of 48 matches while Lorne Rubenstein is right behind him with 28 out of 40 correct predictions. Here's how our golf prognosticators fared with their Friday picks.
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