Casey and Poulter outshine Americans
Saturday 20 February 2010
With just the one representative in the quarter-finals of the WGC Match Play Championship and with a certain somebody revealing that he is still on his "indefinite leave" this was a nightmare day for American golf.
But for Britain this has proved an event which has provided so much hope that one of their number will be capable of capitalising on the world No 1's continue absence.
There are three Englishmen in the last eight here at the Dove Mountain course, which seeing as England has yet to collect any of the WGC crowns since their inception 11 years ago is a giddying statistic. In Paul Casey and Ian Poulter the country has elite performers with an obvious chance. While in Oliver Wilson there is a player who is steadfastly refusing to be beaten. Just ask Luke Donald.
The encounter between Donald and Wilson was a classic match-play see-saw. It was destined to go up the last and when Wilson struck his approach to two feet the quiet man from Mansfield seemed destined to win on the last. But the quiet man from High Wycombe outrageously holed a 50-footer to take it to sudden death and then on the second extra hole was within 12 feet. Advantage Donald. Then Wilson holed a 40-footer and so the momentum switched again. This time Donald was trampled in its surge.
"It was an amazing game," said Wilson, who now plays his Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia this morning. "I honestly believe I can win this event. There's certainly no reason why I can't." Confident words for a professional who is, bafflingly, still awaiting his first title. Saying that, Casey must be the favourite. The 32-year-old was born to play this format, as he has shown when winning the old Wentworth version of the World Match Play in 2006 and then when advancing to the final here last year. Yesterday was yet another 5&4 victory – his third in a row – when Brian Gay was the poor victim of his birdie onslaught. Stewart Cink must now duck the ammunition today.
Poulter, meanwhile, will face Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee. He of the long trousers enjoyed a 5&4 win over India's Jeev Milkha Singh and spoke afterwards of the need "to conserve my energy". Sunday's finalists will have come through a punishing two-match Saturday schedule. Poulter knows all about this as five years ago he made it to the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champion David Toms. "It's a long day and you want to get off to a fast start in the morning quarter-final, being as ruthless as you can," he said. "You want to win 7&6, 8&7, if you can." Jaidee has been warned. After three of their four remaining players went home, the home hopes now rest on Cink. But a Cink victory would be contrary to the feeling of doom enveloping American golf. Where are the heroes to replace Woods and Mickelson? They are certainly not here.
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