|HUNTER MAHAN, USA def. MATT KUCHAR, USA||6 and 5||Hogan|
|Mahan has been playing so well this week that he really doesn't need any help. But Kuchar gave it to him anyway in the battle of the two Americans.|
Kuchar couldn't find his putting stroke Saturday and as a result, suffered the most lopsided quarterfinal loss in Match Play history. Mahan opened the tournament needing 19 holes to beat Zach Johnson but hasn't needed to play the last three holes in any of his last three matches. He's played just 43 of a possible 54 holes the last three days. He's headed to the semifinals for the first time in five Match Play appearances.
Kuchar missed six putts inside 12 feet as he suffered five bogeys, while his three birdies merely halved holes. Kuchar didn't win a single hole against Mahan.
"On the front nine, Matt just couldn't find the putter," Mahan said. "I got lucky there."
Said Kuchar: "My putting let me down ... I think it really came down to putting. I think if I had putted well, I was in the match."
Perhaps most telling, Kuchar twice three-putted greens (Nos. 4 and 7) on the front side. Kuchar entered this week ranked in the top 10 in three-putt avoidance on the PGA TOUR.
"That's so atypical of me," Kuchar said of the three putts. "I don't know what happened with the putting."Mahan had come into Saturday's match with 16 birdies in his previous two matches. He didn't make a birdie in his first seven holes against Kuchar, but it hardly mattered. Thanks to Kuchar's putting woes -- as well as finding the water at the par-3 third -- Mahan was already 4 up at that point.
Finally at the par-5 eighth, Mahan posted his first birdie. He followed with another birdie at the ninth, rolling in a 20-1/2 footer to win the holes. A Kuchar bogey at the 10th put Mahan 6 up. From there, Mahan birdied the par 5s on the back (as did Kuchar) to make sure there was no dramatic comeback.
Mahan's next opponent: Mark Wilson
|MARK WILSON, USA, def. PETER HANSON, Sweden||4 and 3||Jones|
|Wilson's secret to success this week? Play steady ... and let his opponents give him holes. "It really makes it easier to kind of move forward," Wilson said.|
Certainly that was the case in his match against the Swede.
Although Wilson had won two holes on the front side with birdies, the match was all square at the turn.
Meanwhile, Hanson had been very steady off the tee this week. Through the first three rounds, he hit 72 percent of his fairways, and even his early misses on Saturday were in the primary rough.
But at the 10th hole, Hanson found the native area off the tee, leaving him next to a bush and forcing him to just chip out to the fairway. Wilson won the hole with par, and the floodgates seemed to open from there.
"He gave me a couple of holes," Wilson said, "and I took advantage of that."
Hanson lost the par-5 11th with another poor tee shot. Now 2 down, it was too much for the Swede to overcome. Wilson won the 13th with a birdie and the 14th with a par as Hanson found himself in trouble again, this time when his approach shot found a green-side bunker.
"I'm pretty disappointed," said Hanson, who hit just five of 12 fairways on Saturday. "I played really badly today. I put myself in a lot of trouble and gave him the holes at 10 and 11."
As a result, Wilson -- making just his second start in this event -- is in the semifinals. So far this week, he's won nine holes with pars, as his opponents have self-destructed.
His last three matches have not gotten past the 15th hole, and he has yet to play the 18th this week. That's why he stood on the teebox after Saturday's match to try to figure out his angles.
It's not a place he's familiar with ... and no doubt he's surprised a few people by making the final four.
"I don't think too many people picked me," Wilson said.
Wilson's next opponent: Hunter Mahan
|RORY MCILROY, N. Ireland, def. SANG-MOON BAE, Korea||3 and 2||Player|
|McIlroy has gotten progressively better each day. On Saturday, he played his best match of the week to reach the semifinals for the first time in four starts.|
The Northern Irishmen made six birdies, his most in any round, and never trailed for the third straight day. Three of those birdies were on par 5s, and that proved to be the difference against the PGA TOUR rookie from South Korea, who failed to birdie any of the par 5s on Saturday.
"I didn't make many mistakes," McIlroy said. "I played the par 5s a lot better, which definitely helped."
Bae, a surprise quarterfinalist as a No. 11 seed, stayed close to McIlroy by playing bogey-free golf. When he made the turn, he was just 1 down, and then proceeded to square the mach when McIlroy bogeyed the 10th.
Given that Bae had played the back nine at Ritz-Carlton in a bogey-free 6 under, he certainly seemed in good shape to pull off the upset.
But McIlroy birdied the par-5 11th to take the lead. Then at the par-5 13th, McIlroy hit a chip shot from 86 feet to within two feet for a conceded birdie to go 2 up.
At the par-4 15th, McIlroy hit another terrific shot, this time from 100 feet out of the bunker, to within 3 feet for birdie to win the hole. That gave him a chance to close out the match on the next hole.
"My confidence is growing day by day," said McIlroy, who will face Lee Westwood in the semifinals, with each player having a chance to move to No. 1 in the world by winning this event. "But I know I have to play as good or better tomorrow."
McIlroy's next opponent: Lee Westwood
|LEE WESTWOOD, England, def. MARTIN LAIRD, Scotland||4 and 2||Snead|
|For the first time this week, Westwood found himself trailing. It didn't faze him.|
Westwood rallied from an early deficit to continue his unprecedented stay at Dove Mountain this week. Prior to this week, the veteran from England had not gotten past the second round in 11 starts. But now the No. 1 seed is through to the semifinals, where he will play another No. 1 seed, Rory McIlroy.
"Hopefully I can keep playing the way I've been playing," Westwood said. "I felt very solid and I'm not giving much away."
Westwood had entered the match having not trailed at any point in his first three matches, spanning 49 holes. In fact, he had led 48 of those holes.
Laird opened the match, though, by winning the first hole with a birdie. Both players then birdied the second, and Laird had a putt at the third hole from 18 feet to go 2 up. But Westwood, as he stood watching Laird about to putt, said he was comfortable with his play at the point.
Laird missed the putt but continue to maintain the lead until the par-3 sixth, where an errant tee shot cost the Scot a bogey and the hole.
Westwood then took the lead on the next hole by rolling in a 14-foot putt for birdie while Laird bogeyed.
Laird continued to stumble. He lost the ninth and 10th holes with bogeys, although he did bounce back to win the 11th with a birdie while Westwood three-putted from 67 feet.
But any momentum he had was lost at the par-4 14th when he found the greenside bunker and had trouble getting out, eventually conceding the hole.
"I played great for the first three rounds," said Laird. "But it was just one of those days. I hit a lot of bad short irons. You can't do that against someone like Lee and expect to win."
Said Westwood: "It was just a case of not giving any holes away and waiting for Martin to make a mistake."
Westwood's next opponent: Rory McIlroy