Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell both took early leads as the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship began in Arizona.
Northern Ireland’s McDowell, who disposed of giant-killer Shane Lowry earlier in the day, went one up through two holes against Australian Jason Day when his opponent conceded the first.
Three years after winning the trophy at Dove Mountain, Poulter faced birthday boy Steve Stricker – not that the American was receiving any gifts from his opponent for turning 46.
Stricker, who holed a brilliant putt at the last to knock out compatriot Scott Piercy earlier in the day, took the first with a birdie but could only par the long next and Poulter took it.
Poulter then won the third with an outrageous 40 foot putt that turned almost 90 degrees en route to the cup.
In the other quarter-finals, both all-American affairs, Matt Kuchar was two up on Robert Garrigus and defending champion Hunter Mahan was all square with Webb Simpson.
McDowell went two up at the third when he followed a magnificent tee shot with a successful 15 foot birdie putt.
A coruscating encounter between Stricker and Poulter was illuminated by some wonderful play at the fourth – both missing the green but demonstrating their strengths to rescue par.
First Poulter chipped a bunker shot to two feet, then Stricker rolled in a ten foot clutch putt to keep the deficit to one hole.
Poulter did go two up at the sixth when he brilliantly chipped in, while Kuchar turned three up on Garrigus after holing a 30 footer at the ninth.
While Poulter went three up with yet another birdie at the eighth, his Ryder Cup team-mate McDowell had three bogeys in four holes from the fourth and dropped back to all square against Day.
Kuchar also took the tenth and 11th, and as a result was heading for an early finish, while Mahan went one up on US Open Champion Simpson.