Rock breaks Scott's resistance

2/22/2012 10:09:33 PM
Robert Rock   (Getty Images)
Robert Rock (Getty Images)
Robert Rock added another big scalp to his recent collection when he knocked Adam Scott out of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson.

Making his debut in the event a month after beating Tiger Woods and the Official World Golf Ranking's top four in Abu Dhabi, the 34 year old new English star overcame Australia's World Number Eight on the final green.

Rock's success followed defeats for his compatriots Justin Rose, Simon Dyson and Ian Poulter - winner two years ago - while defending champion Luke Donald, never behind in any game last year, was down early on to Ernie Els.

Lee Westwood was going well as he reached the turn against Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, though, and Rory McIlroy, also in with a chance to going to World Number One this weekend, held the early advantage against South African George Coetzee.

Scots Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird both won, Lawrie beating Rose and Laird getting the better of Alvaro Quiros in two of six all-European clashes, but McIlroy was left to carry Northern Irish hopes after Graeme McDowell was again beaten by Y E Yang and Open Champion Darren Clarke went down 5 and 4 to Nick Watney.

Quiros' fellow Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, meanwhile, had the chance to grab the biggest headlines when he took a one up lead into the final five holes against three-time winner Woods - and this a year after Woods went out in the first round to Thomas Björn.

Scott was not the only current world top ten player to fail to make the second round, 18 year old Italian Matteo Manassero taking out sixth-ranked Webb Simpson.

Lawrie followed up his Commercialbank Qatar Masters victory with a last-hole win over Rose in his first appearance at the tournament since 2003.

The former Open Champion said: "It's great - you want to play in these events, but there's no point playing if you come and get beat."

Laird was also taken to the 18th, but struck a superb nine iron to two feet and did not have to make birdie after Quiros three-putted.

"Yesterday in practice was as good as I've hit it in a year," said Laird.

McDowell lost 3 and 2 to Yang in the third round a year ago. This time it was a 2 and 1 margin.

Woods, beaten on the opening day by Thomas Björn last year, found himself two down after two to Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño.

Woods was the closer of the two on the first, but missed from seven feet after Fernandez-Castaño - currently on course for a Ryder Cup debut in September - had holed from ten.

The Madrid golfer then carved his drive down the long second into the desert, but Woods followed him and had to play his second shot left-handed.

Former World Number One Woods, presently 20th on the Official World Golf Ranking, turned things round to lead by one after eighth, but hit wild shots on the tenth and 11th and followed a double bogey with a bogey to lose both.

Poulter lost 4 and 3 to Yang's fellow Korean Bae Sang-moon, playing not just his first Match Play, but also his first World Golf Championship.

Rock said: "I was pretty average right to the end, but luckily Adam let me off on a few occasions and then I found some good iron shots."

Donald levelled on the seventh, but Westwood was pulled back to only one ahead after ten and McIlroy lost the fourth and sixth to slip one behind Coetzee, in as second reserve after Mickelson chose to go on holiday and Paul Casey decided to delay his return from dislocating his shoulder snowboarding.

Woods drove the green on the 15th and two-putted for birdie, then went ahead again when Fernandez-Castaño bogeyed the short 16th.

On the next Woods had a ten foot chance to go through, but missed it and found a greenside bunker at the last. He splashed out brilliantly down the slope to eight feet and after his opponent just failed with his nine foot birdie attempt he holed for victory.

"Neither one of us had our best stuff - I was just surviving," he said.

Woods was through, but Donald and McIlroy were not certain to join him. Donald avoided going three down by chipping in at the tenth and McIlroy turned one down.

Westwood was much better placed, birdies on the 12th and 13th putting him three up.