Poulter routs Sergio in Match Play semis

Ian Poulter reached the final of the Match Play Championship with

an easy victory over Sergio Garcia on Saturday in the nastiest

weather of the week.

Poulter built an early lead in the wind, rain and cold, and

went on to a 7-and-6 victory.

Still to be determined is if it will be an all-England final.

In the other semifinal match, Camilo Villegas of Colombia had

a 1-up lead over Paul Casey with six holes remaining. Casey was a

finalist a year ago.

Casey advanced to the semis by beating Stewart Cink in 14

holes at chilly, windy Dove Mountain, where light rain turned heavy

late Saturday morning.

Cink’s loss left no Americans in the afternoon semifinals for

the first time in the tournament’s 12-year history.

It was Casey’s fourth 5 and 4 win in four rounds. Casey, who

attended Arizona State University and lives in Scottsdale, has yet

to play the final four holes in the event.

“I don’t know where that came from, I must admit,” he said.

“(Nick) Faldo suggested I go play the last four holes just to

practice.”

Villegas advanced with a 4-and-3 win over South African

Retief Goosen. In the other quarterfinals, Spain’s Garcia beat

Oliver Wilson 4 and 3, and Poulter edged Tongchai Jaidee of

Thailand 1-up.

Jaidee had not trailed in a match all week until Poulter went

1-up on the 17th hole. Jaidee, seeded No. 48, lost when his 15-foot

putt hung on the left lip of the cup on the 18th.

“I’m very disappointed,” Jaidee said in broken English. “Big

event. I try. I enjoy to play this tournament, you know, but

different. Is not like a normal one.”

The day began chilly when the first group teed off at 7:10

a.m., local time. The wind picked up through the morning and gray

clouds moved in. The rain began to fall just as the golfers were

wrapping up the quarterfinals.

“It was difficult out there,” Poulter said. “The wind

started to blow around that back nine and it got very, very cold.”

Casey, runner-up to Geoff Ogilvy a year ago, won three

consecutive holes to go 4-up at the turn. Cink managed to win the

13th hole, but Casey won the next two. He sank a 15-footer for

birdie on No. 13, then clinched it when both birdied No. 14.

“I was trying all day to avoid being a victim to that four

again to him,” Cink said. “He played really well and I didn’t play

as well as I did in the first three matches. That explains the

score.”

The Americans’ poor showing was enhanced by the absence of

three-time champion Tiger Woods because of his sex scandal and Phil

Mickelson, who took the week off for a family vacation. The event’s

top-seeded player, American Steve Stricker, was knocked out in the

first round.

Garcia had never advanced to the quarterfinals in eight tries

until this year. Villegas lost in the first round in 2008 and in

the third round last year, his first two appearances.

Poulter, in his seventh match play, made it to the semifinals

in 2005.”