Friday, 19 March 2010
Accenture Match Play Championship-Round One  (Getty Images)
Accenture Match Play Championship-Round One (Getty Images)

Five English players reached the third round of the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play as The European Tour contingent mounted a strong challenge in Arizona with eight Members making it through.

But Tiger Woods saw his comeback from injury brought to an abrupt halt as he was knocked out by South Africa’s Tim Clark.

The World Number One was beaten 4 and 2 by Clark in the second round of the tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club near Tucson that ended his eight month lay-off following reconstructive knee surgery.

Woods’ defeat meant he was the fourth of the top seeds in each quarter of the draw to be knocked out. Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia fell in the first round while Vijay Singh was beaten at the 19th hole by England’s Luke Donald.

Clark now faces Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy who defeated American Hunter Mahan one up, sinking an 18 foot putt at the last to seal victory.

Aside from Clark it was a day of upsets as Oliver Wilson claimed another big name victim when he knocked out World Number 11 Anthony Kim, a day after beating KJ Choi in the first round.

Wilson, who with Henrik Stenson came from four holes down to beat Phil Mickelson and Kim in The Ryder Cup foursomes at Valhalla last September, tasted victory over the young American hotshot again with a 2 and 1 win.

Wilson now meets American Justin Leonard in the last 16 after the former The Open Championship winner defeated compatriot Davis Love III one up.

“Two good wins,” Wilson said. “He's a great player, and obviously The Ryder Cup I think maybe helped me a little bit, knowing that I've already beat him before.

“So I went out there just trying to play well and managed to do that, but it was a very tough match.”

There was further success for England when Paul Casey reached the third round with a 6 and 4 win over Australia’s Mathew Goggin and Ross Fisher ended the run of Pat Perez, the American who knocked out Padraig Harrington in the first round.

Fisher was five up after ten holes, and finished in style, sinking an eagle putt to send Perez to a 6 and 5 defeat.

He said: “Obviously it's great for European golf, and obviously it's great for English golf.

“We've got some really good youngsters coming through, as well, that aren't here this week. They're playing on The European Tour. I think the future is very bright.”

Lee Westwood, though, could not get past American Stewart Cink, last year’s runner-up, in a marathon that went to five extra holes before the Englishman missed an 11 foot putt to send his rival through to meet Phil Mickelson, who beat Zach Johnson one up.

Colombia’s Camilo Villegas was once again in hot form as he took a four up lead over Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez in the first five holes and maintained it for a 5 and 4 victory.

Villegas now meets Geoff Ogilvy, who kept the Australian flag flying with a 19 hole win over Japan’s Shingo Katayama.

Sweden’s Peter Hanson scored a 2 and 1 victory over Stephen Ames of Canada and will face Casey, while Fisher will play Jim Furyk, who beat Martin Kaymer of Germany 4 and 2.

Ernie Els of South Africa overcame American Steve Stricker 3 and 2 and now plays Donald.

In the final matches of the day, Sean O’Hair beat fellow American Boo Weekley 2 and 1 and will play Ian Poulter, who became the fifth Englishman into the last 16 when he defeated Charl Schwartzel one up.

Poulter produced a stunning second shot out of the bunker at the 17th to within a foot of the pin, which put him one up going down the 18th.

“I just had to hit it perfect,” he said. “I just hit it down to a foot. It was a great shot under pressure and obviously I win the hole there.”

Woods had marked his return with a 3 and 2 victory over Australia's Brendan Jones in the first round, and he took an early lead with a birdie at the second before Clark brought the match back to all square with a magnificent 68 foot putt at the fifth.

There was an upset in the making when Woods bogeyed the par five, 659 yard 11th to lose the hole and then saw Clark birdie the 12th and 13th to go three down.

Some Tiger magic came at the 14th when he won the hole by holing out from a bunker but at the 15th he drove out of bounds into the desert and lost the match at the 16th to a player who came into the tournament ranked 32nd in the world.

“Well, I lost,” Woods said. “I played really well but didn’t make enough birdies.

“When you’re playing match play you have to make birdies and I didn’t do that.

“Tim’s a wonderful player, he’s consistent and grinds it out and he made a bunch of birdies.”

Clark revealed he had always been confident.

“I knew if I came out and played good I’d always have a chance,” Clark said. “Once I got through the first hole I felt pretty comfortable until he holed that bunker shot on 14.

“But it was a great match for me.”

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