MARANA, Ariz. – Not even Graeme McDowell can believe he’s still alive in the Match Play Championship.
Right when it looked as though he used up all his magic, McDowell pulled off another improbable escape Friday to advance to the quarterfinals at Dove Mountain. This time, all he had to do was win the last two holes to force overtime, make a 20-foot par putt to extend the match, and then win it with a birdie on the 21st hole.
Nine lives have been used up, and then some, McDowell said.
He again provided plenty of drama on a warm afternoon filled with it.
Sergio Garcia bizarrely conceded an 18-foot par putt to Rickie Fowler on the seventh hole because he felt bad about taking so long on a drop away from bees on the previous hole. Fowler wound up getting back in the match with three straight birdies, and winning with a birdie on the 18th.
Jim Furyk, who played college golf at Arizona, rallied from 3 down on the front nine to beat Harris English.
Ernie Els hit a magnificent shot into the 18th hole for a birdie to knock off his second major champion in two days – Justin Rose on Thursday, Jason Dufner on Friday. Next up is Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan who took out defending champion Matt Kuchar.
The others advancing to the quarterfinals were Jason Day (3 and 1 over George Coetzee); Louis Oosthuizen had the best round, 6 under through 14 holes in beating Webb Simpson; and Victor Dubuisson of France won the first two holes and held on to beat Bubba Watson.
Perhaps it is only fitting that McDowell next plays Dubuisson.
McDowell has never led in any match until the last hole. Dubuisson has never trailed in his three matches.
The only player who had a more unlikely run to the quarterfinals in the 16-year history of the Accenture Match Play Championship was Geoff Ogilvy at La Costa in 2006. In his opening four matches, he watched 10 times as his opponent had a putt to win the match. Ogilvy went on to win the tournament.
No other player, however, has been in a more precarious spot than McDowell for three straight days.
He was 3 down to Gary Woodland with three holes to play when he won the next three holes, then beat him with a birdie on the 19th hole. He was 2 down with four holes to play against Hideki Matsuyama when he won two holes, made a 10-foot par to halve another, and won the 18th with a par.
LPGA: In Chonburi, Thailand, Anna Nordqvist made two late bogeys at the rainy LPGA Thailand, leaving her a stroke ahead after the second round. The Swede shot an even-par 72 to remain 6 under. Germany’s Sandra Gal, Paraguay’s Julieta Granada and Spain’s Azahara Munoz were tied for second.
Nordqvist bogeyed Nos. 16 and 18. She had three birdies and three bogeys.
There were some tough pins out there, Nordqvist said. A lot of them were on ridges, and I felt like I hit a lot of good shots and kept spinning off the ridges. Not much you can do. Felt like I hit it solid. A little disappointed to finish with a bogey on the last.
Munoz and Granada shot 68, and Gal had a 70. Americans Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie were 4 under. The third-ranked Lewis shot a 69. Wie shot 73.
Top-ranked Inbee Park, the defending champion who is making her first start of the year, was 2 under after a 71. Second-ranked Suzann Pettersen and No. 4 Lydia Ko also were 2 under.