Pierre Fulke’s 18th hole heroics continued as, for the second successive day, he rolled in a long birdie putt to continue his progress through the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship. The birdie on the final green at the Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne earned Fulke victory over New Zealand’s Michael Campbell and takes the Swede into the quarter finals alongside two other European Tour Members – Ernie Els and Nick O’Hern.
Campbell and Fulke, winners of five events on the 2000 European Tour International Schedule and seven events in total worldwide between them last season, came to the final green all-square after a titanic battle. And for the second successive day, Fulke, the 2000 Volvo Masters champion, won his match in spectacular fashion, holing from 25 feet for a birdie to end the contest.
In the second round Fulke holed a similar putt on the 18th to take his match with American Glen Day into extra-holes, finally clinching that match with an outstanding shot on the 20th. Once again Fulke rose the to occasion and now moves into the last eight to face American Brad Faxon, who put out fellow American and fourth seed Tom Lehman by one hole.
O’Hern became the first player to reach the quarter finals of the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship with a 5 and 4 defeat of Dudley Hart and now faces Steve Stricker.
O’Hern was the first reserve for the championship and would have been on holiday had the opportunity to play in Melbourne not arisen. But after victories over the number two seed Hal Sutton, Tim Herron and now Hart, O’Hern can approach the quarter finals in confident mood.
O’Hern said: ``I guess I’m more surprised than anything. I wasn’t at the top of my game today, but I took advantage of his mistakes on the course. I was a bit scrappy and up and down but it ended quite solidly.
``This is what we train for and play for and it feels pretty comfortable at the moment.”
Also through to the quarter finals is the number one seed and world number two Ernie Els, who needed 19 holes to overcome the gallant Jean Van de Velde. This was perhaps the most fiercely contested match so far this week at Metropolitan, with the pair both making tough birdie putts on the 18th.
``It was played in a very competitive spirit,’’ said Els. ``I’ve known Jean for a long time and it was a very close match out there. I wasn’t about to say `great putt’ and shake his hand when he made that putt at 18. I went and made my putt instead. It was very exciting.’’
The comeback of the day came from Craig Stadler, whom Els meets in the quarter finals. He was three down against Andrew Coltart after 13 holes, before emerging victorious on the 19th hole. Birdies at the 13th, 16th and a Coltart bogey at the 15th took the match to sudden-death and Stadler made another birdie at the first extra hole.
``I got to three up but couldn’t close the door,’’ said Coltart. ``Not because I didn’t play well but he stuck it inside me and that was it.’’
Japan’s Shigeki Maruyama pulled away to win 4 and 3 against Zimbabwe's Mark McNulty while Stricker simply outplayed American counterpart Justin Leonard with nine birdies in 13 holes to win 6 and 5. Australian Stuart Appleby lost to Japan's Toru Taniguchi 2 and 1 while the other winner on the day was Faxon, who said: ``I knew that Tom would be tough but I played very well. I continue to play well here at Metropolitan and I love it.’’
Both the quarter finals and the semi-finals will take place on Saturday. The morning matches start at 9.35 AEDT and the afternoon matches starting at 2.45 AEDT. Sunday’s final will take place over 36 holes.Third Round Scores