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WGC Matchplay: Big Names Out while Europeans Reign

AFP

More Europeans were left standing than Americans after the second round of the 8.5 million-dollar Accenture Match Play Championship, and almost as many Asians.

On another day of upsets at Dove Mountain on Thursday, the second, third, fourth and fifth seeds were eliminated from the World Golf Championships event, as was defending champion Geoff Ogilvy. All followed top seed Steve Stricker, who tumbled out of the first round on Wednesday.

When the dust settled, sixth seed Paul Casey was the highest ranked player still alive, thanks to the Englishman?s emphatic 5 and 4 victory over Canadian Mike Weir.

Casey was among five Europeans to advance to the final 16, along with four Americans, three Asians, three South Africans and one Colombian.

Second-seeded Lee Westwood of England was the highest seed to lose - beaten 2 and 1 by Nick Watney - but he had some good company in number three American Jim Furyk, number four Martin Kaymer of Germany and number five Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.

South African Charl Schwartzel eliminated Furyk 3 and 2, Kaymer fell 3 and 2 to South African Tim Clark and England's Oliver Wilson ousted McIlroy in 20 holes.

Perhaps the day?s most entertaining contest matched South Africans Retief Goosen and Ernie Els.

Els sank successive clutch 10-foot putts to stay alive at the final hole of regulation as well as the 19th before Goosen finally clinched victory at the 20th hole.

"I think the first time ever I got past Ernie," Goosen said of his long-time rival. "It's nice to also move on in this event.

"It was an up-and-down game. He probably played tee-to-green better than me, but I putted better than him today. I knew he was going to come back. I knew I had to make birdies to win.

"I got a bit lucky, I must say," Goosen added. "He had his chances to take it and he didn't. Hopefully tomorrow I can put it all together and play better."

Japan?s Ryo Ishikawa, at 18 the youngest player in the field, survived another close match to beat 64th seed Ross McGowan, who knocked off Stricker on Wednesday.

Ishikawa, who won 1-up, set up an all-Asian third round match against Thai Thongchai Jaidee, who beat Sweden's Robert Karlsson 4 and 3.

Indian Jeev Milkha Singh also advanced after outlasting American Matt Kuchar 1-up.

"It was hard work," said Singh. "I ground it out and I think that?s what match play is all about.

"Matt came back strong and birdied 14 and 15 and I made some good up-and-downs on 16 and 17."

Colombian Camilo Villegas pulled off perhaps the day?s biggest upset, a 2 and 1 victory over defending champion Ogilvy, who has an unsurpassed record in this event, with two titles and a runner-up finish in the past four years.

"I?ve been working hard on my attitude," Villegas said. "I think patience at the end of the day won the match.

"Geoff obviously has a great record in this event and he beat me last year. As players, we don?t forget these things.

"So last night I went to bed (thinking) it?s my turn, but you?ve got to be focused and hit one shot at a time and that?s what I did."

 
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