WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship: He's lone No. 1 seed still German-ating

2011-02-25T00:00:00Z 2011-02-25T23:07:30Z WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship: He's lone No. 1 seed still German-atingRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 25, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Martin Kaymer's violet sweater and black pants are valuable real estate, textural billboards for advertisers who want to align themselves with the world's second-ranked golfer.

In Thursday's second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, BOSS was a clothing line, a sponsor - and a declaration.

The German dispatched England's Justin Rose in 20 holes, securing the match with a stellar escape from a bunker with a sand wedge on the second playoff hole.

Southern Arizona exhaled. On a day when top-four seeds Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood, match play experts Stewart Cink and Paul Casey, and crowd favorite Rory McIlroy were eliminated, Kaymer appears - albeit tenuously - to be in charge. The 26-year-old will face American Hunter Mahan today for a chance to advance to the round of eight.

"It would have been tough had I lost it," Kaymer said. "I played solid golf."

Kaymer said he had to dig "very deep" for Thursday's win, played in front of a subdued crowd at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain.

He probably got sandy.

Kaymer's second shot on the 20th and decisive hole landed in the back of a bunker 60 feet from the hole. With the match on the line, he blasted out to within 18 inches. Rose missed his fourth shot, a long putt, giving Kaymer the match.

"It was a good fight," Kaymer said.

The same can't be said for the matches involving Mickelson and McIlroy, golfers who were chased off the course hours before Kaymer went to extra holes.

Rickie Fowler dispatched Mickelson, the top seed in their bracket, 6 and 5; the match ended when Mickelson conceded the 13th hole.

Mickelson seemed charmed by the 22-year-old Fowler, who wore a hot pink hat, shirt and spikes while routing one of his golf idols.

Fowler had two birdies and an eagle in his final six holes; another two were conceded.

"He was a very tough opponent for me," Mickelson said. "You can't help but pull for him. He's a nice guy, really is a quality individual and means a lot to American golf."

McIlroy's match was even uglier. American Ben Crane won four of the first six holes against the Northern Irishman before putting him away on the 11th green. The shortest match of the week had the most surprising finish: Crane's 8-and-7 win equaled the second-largest margin of victory in Match Play history.

Crane said he "just got going early and felt very comfortable, and Rory didn't have his best day. Things were all going in my favor."

Westwood, meanwhile, couldn't catch a break. The world's No. 1-ranked golfer was 1 down to Nick Watney when the two drove from the No. 16 tee. Watney hit into a bunker, while Westwood stuck his shot within 20 feet of the pin.

Then, he fell apart. Westwood three-putted the 16th, and the hole was halved. Two holes later, he missed a 15-foot birdie putt that would have extended the match.

Westwood continues to be a Match Play dud; in 11 appearances in the head-to-head tournament, he has yet to advance past the second round.

Watney, a Bay Area native who cites baseball's Giants and the NBA's Kings among his favorite teams, said he enjoys the head-to-head nature of Match Play.

"I played a lot of sports growing up, and it feels like a lot of others - maybe basketball or other sports," he said. "It's very much one-on-one; it's not one-on-150. So I enjoy it."

The next round of one-on-one, against Ryan Moore, promises even more surprises, both good and bad.

Watney knows to expect anything.

"Any of these guys could get hot and you're down the road," he said. "I'll enjoy this, but tomorrow we start all over again."

 

Today

• What: Third round

• When: First tee time at 10:35 a.m.

• TV: Noon on Golf Channel

• Ticket info: 1-866-942-2672 or worldgolfchampionships.com

DON'T MISS

No. 5 Graeme McDowell vs. No. 44 Y.E. Yang, 10:47 a.m.

Last year's U.S. Open champion, McDowell, meets the 2009 PGA Championship winner, Yang, in a Sweet 16 showdown.

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