Ian Poulter progresses to semi-finals of WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: 24/02/13 2:20pm
Ian Poulter continued to fly the flag for Europe as he progressed to the semi-finals of the WGC-Accenture Championship in Arizona, but Graeme McDowell bowed out in the quarters.
The Englishman again demonstrated his love of the match play format as he followed his last 16 win over Tim Clark earlier on Saturday with a convincing 3&2 victory over Steve Stricker to reach the last four.
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Poulter, champion at Dove Mountain in 2010, showed a simply superb touch on and around the greens to end the hopes of his American opponent who was celebrating his 46th birthday.
Stricker had got his nose in front after a wild drive from Poulter resulted in a bogey at the first, but the Ryder Cup star responded with consecutive birdies to take the lead, including a sublime breaking putt from 30 feet at the third.
A birdie at six and a magnificent eagle at the par-five eighth put him 3up and the match was all but over when another birdie at the short 12th saw him pull four clear.
Although Stricker did trim the lead at 14, Poulter produced a clinical up-and-down at 16 to end the contest and set up a semi-final showdown with defending champion Hunter Mahan.
Disappointment for McDowell
The American was taken all the way in a see-saw battle with compatriot Webb Simpson, but decisively got in front at the 16th with a par-three and then halved the last two holes to secure a 1up success.
(US unless stated)
M Kuchar beat R Garrigus 3&2
I Poulter (Eng) beat S Stricker 3&2
J Day (Aus) beat G McDowell (NIrl) 1up
H Mahan beat W Simpson 1up
There was disappointment for McDowell as he lost a similarly tight quarter-final encounter against Jason Day, the Australian also emerging a 1up winner after a nip-and-tuck affair.
The Ulsterman birdied the first three holes to get himself two ahead, but then rather lost his rhythm for the remainder of the contest with Day levelling by the seventh courtesy of a couple of pars.
Day forged ahead at the 11th and 15th only to twice be pegged back by his rival, but when McDowell made bogey at 17 to gift him the lead again he would go on to close out the match courtesy of a solid par down the last.
The first man to book his place in the semi-finals was Matt Kuchar who continued his fine run at the event with a 3&2 win over big-hitting Robert Garrigus.
A semi-finalist in 2010, Kuchar advanced to the last four again with relative ease as he bossed the match from the early stages, opening a 4up lead by the tenth hole that always looked too big for Garrigus to recover from.
Jason Day (Aus) v Matt Kuchar (US)
Hunter Mahan (US) v Ian Poulter (Eng)