More top seeds are upset in the Match Play Championship

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MARANA, Ariz. — Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods now have plenty of company – somewhere other than the Match Play Championship.

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ROSS D. FRANKLIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS  ROSS D. FRANKLIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ROSS D. FRANKLIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ROSS D. FRANKLIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

One day after the best two players in the world went home, more top seeds followed Friday when golf’s most unpredictable tournament served up another reminder that the only time the word “upset” should be used is to describe the guys who are no longer playing.

Luke Donald, the No. 3 seed who is regarded among the best in match play, suffered his worst loss in 25 matches at this tournament. Louis Oosthuizen (No. 4) and Justin Rose (No. 5) never even reached the 17th tee when it was time for them to leave.

When another wild day ended at Dove Mountain, Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson was the last man standing among the top 10 seeds.

“This game ... it’s a toss-up,” Watson said after going 22 holes to beat Jim Furyk. “You can’t really judge who’s going to win, or bet who’s going to win. It really means nothing, is what I’m saying.”

The other giant killer, Augusta native Charles Howell, wasn’t so fortunate.

Howell, who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday, lost 6 and 5 to Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

At least Watson’s still playing, even though he made it hard on himself.

Watson missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have won the match. He missed another 5-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole. He had to stand to the side of the green as Furyk stood over a 12-foot putt to win the match. Given new life, Watson finally advanced to the third round.

It was the first time since this World Golf Champ­ionship began in 1999 that only one top-10 seed was remaining after two rounds.

“I think we’re beyond surprises, in this event especially,” Graeme McDowell said after needing 20 holes to beat Alex Noren. “Anybody can have a great day and anybody can have a tough day. It’s what makes the game exciting, and it’s what makes this game extremely fickle and extremely frustrating.”

Donald, who birdied his last two holes Thursday to win his opening match, didn’t know what hit him.

Scott Piercy won the first three holes, and if that wasn’t enough, he hit a 4-iron into the cup for eagle on the fifth hole and was on his way to a 7-and-6 win, a margin known as a “dog license” in Britain. Back in the day, it used to cost 7 schillings and six pence.

Donald felt like a wounded pup.

“Losing (stinks) and it’s very disappointing,” Donald said. “But I would have liked to have given him a bit better of a match.”

In other matches:

• Defending champion Hunter Mahan had an easy time with Richard Sterne to win his eighth consecutive match, and next faces the last player to beat him in this event – Martin Kaymer, who defeated Rafael Cabrera Bello of Spain.

• Webb Simpson made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to beat Peter Hanson.

• Steve Stricker knocked out Nick Watney on the 21st hole. It was the first time Watney has failed to reach the third round in this tournament.

• Ian Poulter built a big lead over Bo Van Pelt and hung on to win on the 17th hole.

AUGUSTA NATIVE HOWELL IS ELIMINATED

One day after beating Tiger Woods, Augusta native Charles Howell didn’t make a single birdie against Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano on Friday. Fernandez-Castano, who had to finish his 1-up win over Francesco Molinari in the morning, never lost a hole in a 6-and-5 win.

– Associated Press


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