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

European golf was on the march in Tucson as Spain's Sergio Garica and the English foursome of Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Oliver Wilson and Ian Poulter all reached the last 16 of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

And late in the second round there was still a chance that second seed Lee Westwood and last-man-in Ross McGowan would be joining them.

Westwood was level with American Nick Watney after taking the 12th and 13th, holing a bunker shot for the second of those, while McGowan, conqueror of top seed Steve Stricker, trailed 18 year old Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa by one with four to go after holing a monster putt at the 14th.

Casey and Luke Donald both took further steps on the comeback trail with convincing wins, then Wilson knocked out fourth seed Rory McIlroy at the second extra hole and Poulter beat Australian Adam Scott 2 and 1.

Last year's runner-up Casey, still recovering from the torn rib muscle he suffered last summer, defeated Canadian left-hander Mike Weir 5 and 4. 

But Donald, returning to form following wrist surgery in 2008, went one better than that with a 6 and 5 victory over Australian Robert Allenby. 

The 32 year old, runner-up on the US PGA Tour two weeks ago, had opened with an eight-birdie victory over Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and commented: "Again another solid day, five birdies, no bogeys.

“I picked off the par fives and Robert didn't quite have him game. He didn't put too much pressure on me.

"I'm drawing on the confidence of the last few weeks. This is my fourth in a row, so to finish as quickly as possible is good for me."

Casey won the first four holes against Weir, who 24 hours earlier had birdied nine of the first ten holes against Spaniard Alvaro Quiros.

The former Masters Tournament champion failed to reproduce that form and won only one hole in the entire match.

Casey said: "I didn't see any reason why Mike would struggle, but he did. The start was key - I was very surprised to be four up after four. 

"Conserving energy is always a big one. When my legs get tired it affects my swing. Peter Kostis (his American coach) told me to go back to the hotel and relax when I finished yesterday, so I went back and worked out!"

Things were much closer in the all-European duel between 20 year old McIlroy and Wilson and they went into sudden death when the Northern Ireland star saved himself with an eight foot putt on the last. 

McIlroy, who reached the last eight on his debut 12 months ago, had recovered from four down to beat American Kevin Na on the opening day, but a drive into a bunker at the 20th, followed by a superb chip by Wilson, ended the clash. 

The Mansfield golfer, still searching for his first professional victory despite being part of Europe's last Ryder Cup side, next plays Donald - his third European opponent in a row.

Wilson stated: "That's a strange one, but I'm obviously delighted to be through. It's mainly relief - that's great scalp for me.

"We're only a small country and to have nine in the field is fantastic - a great achievement."

Poulter stated: "It's very pleasing. It was never going to be an easy match - none of these is whether you are the number one seed or the 64th."

He next takes on Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, while sixth seed Casey is up against American Brian Gay, ranked 54th.

Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy was beaten 2 and 1 by Colombian Camilo Villegas and third seed Jim Furyk was knocked out by South African Charl Schwartzel, but Garcia came from behind to defeat Dane Anders Hansen.

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