Danny Willett was unable to capitalise on a strong start as he found himself one down to America’s Gary Woodland in their WGC – Cadillac Match Play semi-final.
The Englishman, making his tournament debut at TPC Harding Park, had emerged from a group containing compatriot Andy Sullivan and Americans Ryan Moore and Patrick Reed with a perfect 3-0 record.
The 27 year old then saw off two more countrymen on Saturday, beating Lee Westwood in the last 16 before dispatching of Tommy Fleetwood 4 and 3 in the quarter-final.
And Willett remained on top of his game in the early stages against Woodland, getting up-and-down for a winning birdie on the par five first to go one up.
Willett got up-and-down again at the second, this time for par, with a clutch six footer keeping him one ahead.
American Woodland, who had beaten Australians Marc Leishman and John Senden on Saturday, conceded the fourth after finding a bunker with his approach and then chipping through the green as Willett doubled his advantage.
Woodland turned things around with birdies from 30 feet on the sixth and 13 feet on the seventh, and went ahead when Willett missed a four footer for par at the eighth, remaining one up with eight holes to play.
Willett had not been more than one down all week, but found himself two behind when Woodland pitched close at the 12th and birdied.
Willett halved the deficit with a birdie from six feet on the 13th, but then three-putted the next as Woodland restored his advantage.