Running blog: WGC-Accenture Match Play Day 3


MARANA, Ariz. – Day 3 of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is under way at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. senior writer Rex Hoggard is on site with a running blog of the third-round action. (Click for Scoring)

All times ET

6:30 p.m.: Like most players, Rory McIlroy is a fan of the occasional match play event, but a steady diet would not be something he is interested in.

“It’s good that we don’t play match play every week,” he said following his 3-and-1 Round 3 victory. “I’d only get in 10 events a year.”

As for his Elite Eight opponent – Sang-Moon Bae who held off John Senden with a 5 ½ foot par putt at the 18th hole in the day’s longest match – this will not be the Ulsterman’s first encounter with the Korean.

The two began the final round of the 2009 Korean Open tied for the lead. Bae shot 67 to win and McIlroy slumped to 72 to finish tied for third place.

6:14 p.m.: For the second consecutive day Rory McIlroy didn’t see Dove Mountain’s 18th hole, although his match against Miguel Angel Jimenez seemed much closer than the final 3-and-1 margin of victory would suggest.

For the day McIlroy was 1 under par, and that included a conceded 3 ½-footer for birdie at the 17th hole, and he struggled on Dove Mountain’s greens. The Ulsterman has not trailed in a match since the 11th hole on Friday.

5:46 p.m.:  Much was made of the distance advantage Dustin Johnson had over Mark Wilson in the duo’s Round 3 match at Dove Mountain, and Wilson spent most of the day hitting first but he said that doesn’t mean he’s a short hitter.

“To the media there are two categories: bombers and short hitters,” said Wilson following his 4-and-3 victory over Johnson. “I don’t think of myself as a short hitter.”

Fair enough, but for the record Wilson ranks 159th on Tour in driving distance with a 280-yard average.

5:33 p.m.:  Lee Westwood dismissed the thought that he could be looking ahead to a potential semifinal showdown with Rory McIlroy.

“It’s a danger for you to look too far ahead,” Westwood smiled when asked about the marquee matchup. “I’m looking forward to finding a new restaurant for Friday night.”

Westwood had never advanced past Round  2 at the  WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in his previous 11 starts, pointing out how incorrect many of the Golf Channel prediction brackets turned out to be.

When asked where Golf Channel predicted he would finish Westwood smiled, “On the BA (British Airways flight) 289 on Wednesday night.”

5:12 p.m.: After losing to Nick Watney in the second round at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship the last two years Lee Westwood scored a measure of revenge on Friday, rolling over the American, 3 and 2.

In 11 previous Match Play starts Westwood had failed to advance past the second round. He’s also the only No. 1 seed who has advanced to the Elite Eight. Luke Donald lost on Day 1, Martin Kaymer was beaten, 4 and 3, by Matt Kuchar on Friday and Rory McIlroy is 2 up on Miguel Angel Jimenez through 13 holes.

5:02 p.m.: Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar have both played together on Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams but the two have never been paired together. On Saturday, however, they will face each other at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Although Mahan likes his chances against Kuchar on Saturday, he has no interest in taking on the undisputed king of the American ping-pong table.

“That wouldn’t be a fair match,” Mahan said.

4:29 p.m.: Hunter Mahan follows Matt Kuchar to the Elite Eight with a 4-and-3 win over Steve Stricker. Lee Westwood seems poised to post the next blowout. He's 3 up on Nick Watney after 14 holes.

4:20 p.m.: Matt Kuchar scores the day's first victory, rolling over Martin Kaymer, 4 and 3. Kuchar, however, wasn't done with his work day and decided to play the last three holes by himself.

3:52 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker cuts Peter Hanson’s lead to a single hole after falling 4 down early. Through 10 holes the two players have halved just three holes.

3:46 p.m.: It appears Nick Watney is bound for another letdown following a big win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Watney, who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday, 1 up, is 4 down to Lee Westwood after 11 holes. The last two years Watney has beaten Westwood in Round 2 at the Match Play only to be bounced in the third round.

3:39 p.m.: Although anecdotal, it’s worth pointing out amid the recent outcry against long putters that only one player among this week’s Sweet 16 uses an anchored version. Martin Laird, who is 2 up on Paul Lawrie, uses a belly putter. Matt Kuchar, who is 3 up on Martin Kaymer, also uses a longer-than-standard length putter but does not anchor it.

3:14 p.m.: Steve Stricker, who turned 45 on Thursday, is 2 down in his match against Hunter Mahan and playing from the desert at the 10th hole.

Barring a comeback Stricker will fail to advance past the third round for the seventh time since winning this event in 2001.

3 p.m.: Not saying Martin Kaymer is starting to feel the pressure, as if that 3-down hole he’s dug himself against Matt Kuchar isn’t concerning enough, but his girlfriend Allison Micheletti is in the gallery trailing him at Dove Mountain.

Kaymer’s better half is also a professional golfer and a cast member for Big Break Atlantis, which debuts May 14.

2:40 p.m.: There are three potential Ryder Cup preview matches on Friday at Dove Mountain with the European side currently in the clear.

England’s Lee Westwood is 1 up on Nick Watney through six holes and Sweden’s Peter Hanson 3 up on Brandt Snedeker after five holes, while Matt Kuchar holds the U.S. side’s only lead, 2 up through eight, against Martin Kaymer.

2:25 p.m.: Classic game of contrasts in Match 54 between Dustin Johnson and Mark Wilson, who are all square after two holes at Dove Mountain.

Wilson’s driving average this season in 280 yards, compared to DJ’s 306-yard average. At the first hole, Johnson’s drive went 302 yards compared to Wilson’s 279-yard drive.

2:17 p.m.: Rory McIlroy misses a 5 ½-footer for birdie at the first to split the hole with Miguel Angel Jimenez. Even early it seems like a missed opportunity against the “Mechanic.”

Two holes ahead Hanson is 3 up against Brandt Snedeker after opening his round with three consecutive birdies.

2:11 p.m.: Peter Hanson rolls in 34 feet of birdie putts at Nos. 1 and 2 to go 2 up against Brandt Snedeker, who has been quietly dominant so far this week.

In his first two matches Snedeker has not been down more than one hole and he had trailed a total of four of the 38 holes he’d played.

1:47 p.m.: Just twice in the 13-year history of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship have two No. 1-seeded players squared off in the final match.

Eventual champion Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer did it last year and Tiger Woods and Davis Love III in 2004. The odds seem to be improving with each hole that this year will mark the third time No. 1 seeds advance to Sunday.

Lee Westwood opened with consecutive birdies against Nick Watney and is 2 up while Kaymer is all square in his match against Matt Kuchar.

1:29 p.m.: This week’s champion at Dove Mountain will receive 76 world golf ranking points, the highest total this year for any winner, which will give No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood enough to move ahead of current No. 1 Luke Donald, who lost on Day 1 to Ernie Els.

1:23 p.m.: Martin Kaymer drew first blood on Day 3 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, making birdie at the par-5 second hole to go 1 up in his match against Match Kuchar.

Kaymer is one of three No. 1 seeds remaining along with Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, who may have the match of the day against Nick Watney, who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday.

Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Friday 2-6PM ET; Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.