The European Tour challenge in the inaugural World Golf Championships event - the Andersen Consulting Match Play - reached a brave but ultimately unsuccessful conclusion at La Costa Resort and Spa.
Jose Maria Olazabal and Argentinian Eduardo Romero both battled hard but went out at the quarter-final stage, earning 128,873 euro for their efforts.
Olazabal lost 2 and 1 to John Huston and Romero was knocked out 3 and 2 by Steve Pate as the semi-final line-up took on an all-American flavour. Huston meets Andrew Magee, who eliminated the smiling Japanese, Shigeki Maruyama while Pate’s opponent is Jeff Maggert, the 2 and 1 conqueror of world No1 Tiger Woods.
No-one from the world’s top 20 will contest the remainder of the championship, once again underlining the unpredictability of match play golf.
Maggert had earlier accounted for one of the Europeans, Bernhard Lnager, in the third round. The German recovered from three down to be all square after 10 holes, but Maggert birdied the 12th, 13th and 14th to go through on the last.
Meanwhile Partik Sjoland’s fabulous run came to an unfortunate end. He was three up with five to play against Huston but "ran out of steam", in his own words, to lose to a birdie on the last.
As that pair were toppled, Olazabal and Romero continued their progress. Olazabal, still driving the ball crookedly, took care of former US Open champion Steve Jones by one hole while Romero ended the hopes of local boy Phil Mickelson by 2 and 1.
In the afternoon, Olazabal was always behind after losing the opening two holes. However he was quick to praise Huston by saying: "John played really well. He put his approaches closer and made the birdie putts.
"It’s ironic. I said to my caddie on the 17th that I drove the ball better than I had all week and I lost! Now I wish I could keep that consistency off the tee. That is the most positive thing I will take away from this week."
Romero lost the second hole to Pate and, like Olazabal, was always struggling to redress the balance. He was four down after six and couldn’t recapture the form he showed in beating Mickelson or Greg Norman the previous day.
"I am very tired but happy with my week’s work" he said. "It has been a good week. I hope now I can get into the top 50 in the world and get into the field for the Masters. That is my ultimate dream. This also counts towards the Volvo Order of Merit, so I can’t be unhappy."
Maggert’s win was, however, the upset of the week. Woods had been two up after seven and apparently cruising to a a semi-final place. Maggert had other ideas and won the eighth, 10th, 12th and 15th to ensnare the Tiger.