Friday, 19 March 2010
On another enthralling day's play at La Costa, a trio of European Tour members Paul Lawrie, Miguel Angel Jiménez, and Darren Clarke - found success in the third round of the Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship, and move on to Saturday's Quarter Finals stage.

1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie battled on to defeat 1989 Open Champion Mark Calcavecchia at the third extra hole. Having missed putts at the 16th and 17th, then at the 18th to take the Match, and needing to make a match-saving up and down at the 1st extra hole, Lawrie finally came through at the 21st, holing a long birdie putt.

Miguel Angel Jiménez's Spanish magic also continues into the quarter-finals, with his 2 and 1 defeat of Bob Estes; while Darren Clarke defeated fellow European Tour Member Thomas Björn by 1up in one of the day's great battles.

Lawrie faces world No 1 Tiger Woods and Clarke comes up against Hal Sutton in the quarter-finals. Last November in Hawaii Woods beat Lawrie four and two in the Grand Slam of Golf. And in the Ryder Cup Clarke lost by the same margin to Sutton. Both European players are out to settle the score

"It would be nice to get my own back," said the Ulsterman after adding Bjorn's scalp to those earlier in the week of major winners Paul Azinger and Mark O'Meara.

"I'm probably swinging better than I've ever done at this stage of the season. Normally I'm struggling to break 90."

Lawrie, continuing with coach Adam Hunter as his caddie after dramatically parting company with Irishman Paddy Byrne 10 minutes before facing Billy Mayfair on Thursday, has a huge task ahead of him.

Asked what he learned about playing Woods in Hawaii, the Scot said: "I learned that he hits it a long way, his iron shots are good, he chips it good, he putts it good and he's good a good attitude. He's the best player in the world, but I can convince myself that I can beat him because I hit it pretty good, I hit my iron shots pretty close and I chip pretty good.

"He's a better than me, but underdogs have a strange habit of coming through now and then.

"I'm looking forward to it. If you don't something is wrong with you. You want to take on the best and try to beat the best."

Woods has so far beaten Michael Campbell, Retief Goosen and Shigeki Maruyama and remains favourite to complete a clean sweep of the world championships after winning the NEC Invitational in Ohio last August and American Express championship at Valderrama in November.

He beat Jimenez in a play-off there and could play the Spaniard again in the semi-finals. First, Jimenez has to beat fourth seed Davis Love, though.

The other quarter-final is between world No 2 David Duval, conqueror of Sergio Garcia, and fellow American Scott Hoch.


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