McDowell beats Colsaerts to advance
Graeme McDowell reached the semifinals of the World Match Play Championship after knocking out defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts, whose day included the bizarre moment of taking a penalty drop inside a restroom.
McDowell rallied from an early deficit to win 2 and 1 over his European Ryder Cup teammate on the oceanside Thracian Cliffs course and will next face Branden Grace of South Africa, who beat Chris Wood of England 2 and 1. The other semifinal will pit Thomas Aiken of South Africa against Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.
Colsaerts had the most memorable moment of the day when his tee shot on the short par-4 10th hole flew into a hazard behind a public restroom in a brick building close to the green. Because of where the ball had crossed the hazard line, tournament officials ruled that the penalty drop must be made within the restroom itself, leading to a comical moment that had Colsaerts, his caddie and rules officials all laughing.
”I ain’t hitting it out of the loo,” Colsaerts joked.
He didn’t have to. Since it was considered an immovable obstruction he was then given free relief to play from outside.
He ended up saving par and halving the hole.
”I’m sure now the whole episode at 10 is going to make all the TV news programs, Facebook and all the social media sites with the caption: ‘Here’s some Belgium guy playing golf in some toilet block in Bulgaria,”’ Colsaerts joked. ”It’s the first time I’ve ever hit a ball into a toilet block, and you would have thought as a kid I would have been crazy enough to practice that shot. But I never did.”
McDowell is the highest-ranked player in the event at No. 8 and is looking to become the first Northern Irishman to win the event.
”This is an historic event and it’s a trophy that has all the legends of the game appearing on it,” he said. ”I think back to the golden years around Wentworth and watching all of my heroes winning this great, great tournament. And I would dearly love to add my name to that list, but there is three other guys still left in the event who also feel the same way as I do.”
Grace sealed his win over Wood with birdies at Nos. 16 and 17, while Thongchai defeated Scotland’s Scott Jamieson 4 and 3 and Aiken ousted Italy’s Francesco Molinari 3 and 2.