J.B. Holmes had big plans for this week, and they didn't for a second involve golf.
"I was going to relax," he said. "I was going to fish some and hang out with my friends. My friend has a birthday party tomorrow that I was going to go to, so it looks like I'm going to miss that.
"I'm glad to miss that. He'll have another birthday."
The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship won't ever have a bigger underdog.
The one-time alternate continued his run through Match Play on Friday, dispatching Jason Day 1-up after winning the 17th and 18th holes. He will face Bubba Watson in this morning's quarterfinals, with a chance to advance to the semifinals. Both rounds will be played today at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, because of likely inclement weather (see box).
Maybe the projected wind, rain and, ahem, snow will cool off Miguel Angel Jimenez, who routed American Ben Crane 7 and 6 on Friday to advance to the quarterfinals. Jimenez was 4 up through four holes and piled on after halving Nos. 5-7. The match was called after the two halved the 12th hole with birdies.
Jimenez said he had no real strategy.
"Be yourself," he said.
Jimenez does that well.
The ponytailed, paunchy Spaniard chain-smokes cigars during practice rounds, stashing the smoldering things in a hollowed-out, oversized golf ball while he putts. A curly, reddish ponytail pokes out through the back of his cap. His nickname, "The Mechanic," stems from his penchant for repairing - but not driving - vintage cars.
And then there's Jimenez's age. At 47, he's the oldest remaining competitor in the tournament by eight years. Jimenez is 21 years older than his quarterfinal opponent, Martin Kaymer, and 30 years older than Italy's Matteo Manassero, who was eliminated Friday.
For all the talk about the changing of the guard on the PGA Tour, Jimenez is scoring one for the old guys.
"The young players are playing good. They're playing very well," Jimenez said. "I've playing well, and I'm here. I'm 47 - I'm not that young. But if I keep playing well and give myself chances on the golf course …"
Well, Jimenez won't say it. But with continued steady play and a little luck, he could become the oldest winner in Match Play history. David Toms was 38 when he won Match Play in 2005; Jimenez is nearly a decade older.
Holmes and Jimenez have brought some much-needed personality to a tournament that often becomes staid when the Tigers and Phils go home.
Holmes almost didn't get here. The 28-year-old was sitting in his Orlando, Fla., home Tuesday when he learned that South African Tim Clark had withdrawn because of an elbow injury. As the No. 1 alternate, Holmes quickly booked and boarded a flight west. He was delayed in Orlando, missed his connecting flight in Dallas, and arrived at The Ritz-Carlton around 1 a.m.
But Holmes dispatched Camilo Villegas in the first round on just four hours' sleep, then grinded out a 1-up win over Ernie Els on Thursday. True to form, Friday's match was a slog: Holmes was 1 down after 16 holes before rallying to win the final two. He had help: Day bogeyed out.
"I was a little concerned that we were running out of holes," he said.
Turns out, Holmes had plenty of time to extend his improbable run.
"I definitely didn't come here and think, 'I'm glad I got in, but I'm going to lose it,' " he said. "I came here to win it."
On StarNet: See more photos from Friday at azstarnet.com/gallery tour every hole at go.azstarnet.com/matchplay and see videos from Friday at azstarnet.com/video
• What: Quarterfinals and semifinals
• When: Quarterfinals start at 7:10 a.m.; semifinals start at 11:45 a.m.
• TV: 7 a.m. on Golf Channel and noon on Channel 4
• Ticket info: 1-866-942-2672 or worldgolfchampionships.com
• What: 18-hole championship and consolation finals
• When: Consolation match starts at noon; championship match starts at 12:15 p.m.
• TV: Noon on Channel 4
No. 19 Bubba Watson vs. No. 22 J.B. Holmes, 7:46 a.m.
Two of the longest-driving pros in golf history, Watson and Holmes will challenge Holmes' Wednesday drive of 400 yards, longest of the week at the Ritz-Carlton.
forecast causes Schedule changes
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship officials moved the tournament semifinals to today and changed the tournament schedule for the weekend because of inclement weather in the forecast.
Tournament quarterfinals will start today at 7:10 a.m., with the semifinals scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Sunday's consolation match will begin at noon, with the 18-hole championship match scheduled for 12:15 p.m.
"Our goal is to finish the championship by Sunday night," Steve Carman, a PGA Tour rules official, said. "The idea is to start the quarterfinal matches early and finish them, and start the semifinals with the idea that if the wind doesn't go at the velocity we're expecting, we'll be able to play all right."
Any unfinished or postponed semifinal matches would be pushed to Sunday morning, Carman said.
The tweaked schedule is identical to what the tournament used in past years; officials initially scheduled this year's semifinals for Sunday with hopes it would boost attendance and TV ratings.
The weather forced them to change. Forecasts are calling for 25 mph to 35 mph winds for Saturday and possible rain and snow in higher elevations Sunday.
Fans with general admission tickets for today or Sunday can use them for either or both days.