MARANA, Ariz. – For officials scrambling to get back on schedule at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Saturday’s third round – despite being delayed 45 minutes by frost – was exactly what the schedule-makers needed.
Of the eight Round 3 matches just two made it to the 18th hole and five didn’t make it past the 16th hole.
Ian Poulter and Hunter Mahan led the lopsided charge with 5-and-3 and 5-and-4 victories, respectively. The defending champion has now gone 113 holes without trailing, dating back to the sixth hole in Round 1 against Zach Johnson . . . at the 2012 championship.
“I've always gotten off to good starts and get some leads and been hitting it well,” said Mahan, who will play Webb Simpson in Saturday’s quarterfinal. “If you hit fairways and greens, you know you're going to put pressure on your guy. It's definitely nice to get a lead and that's the goal for everybody, but to do it, it's a good feeling for sure.”
Poulter has been nearly as impressive, rolling past Tim Clark early Saturday to set the stage for a Ryder Cup rematch with Steve Stricker. The two met during Sunday singles at the 2008 matches with the Englishman taking the point.
Stricker’s match was one of just two to go 18 holes and he and Scott Piercy combined for 15 birdies, the last a 31 footer at the ninth hole, (the pair’s last) for the 1-up victory.
Jason Day and Matt Kuchar added to the landslide, both advancing with 4-and-3 triumphs. Kuchar took down Belgian bomber Nicolas Colsaerts while Day survived a slow start to beat Bubba Watson, who went from bush to bush to bush at the 15th hole to end his week.
Graeme McDowell ended Shane Lowry’s Cinderella ride this week with a 3-and-2 victory and will face Day in Saturday’s quarterfinal match. Lowry, who beat world No. 1 Rory McIlroy in Round 1, needed to advance to the semifinals to earn enough World Ranking points to secure a spot in the WGC-Cadillac Championship field in two weeks and left Arizona to prepare for a Monday qualifying event for The Honda Classic in South Florida.
Kuchar will play Robert Garrigus, who overpowered Fredrik Jacobsen, 3 and 1, in Round 3.