Ryder Cup-winning teammates Graeme McDowell, Nicolas Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari are through to the quarterfinals of the World Match Play Championship.
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McDowell beat Bo Van Pelt 2 and 1 on the Thracian Cliffs course Saturday and will look to avenge his loss from last year’s final when he meets Colsaerts. The defending champion won 2 up against Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano after being ahead by five shots with five holes to play.
”I got off to a great start again, playing the first eight holes again fantastically. But just lost my rhythm for a while, and it was good to get the win in the end as I was fully prepared to go down the first extra hole,” McDowell said. ”This afternoon’s match will be a little repeat of last year’s final. He’s beaten me twice the last two years running in this tournament, so you could say I’m owed one but we will see.”
Colsaerts’ five-shot lead evaporated until he was only 1 up when playing the last hole. But his approach landed within 4 feet of the hole, and his Spanish opponent conceded the hole and match.
”It was totally my fault as I should have ended our game an hour or an hour and a half earlier as I had a putt on 13 to win the match,” Colsaerts said.
Molinari defeated Carl Pettersson 6 and 4 in a one-sided match for his third straight victory, while Thongchai Jaidee needed three extra play-off holes to defeat Peter Hanson.
In other matches, Branden Grace topped Brett Rumford 4 and 3, ending the Australian’s hopes of becoming the first player since Seve Ballasteros in 1986 to win three straight European Tour titles.
”Branden just played too good right from the word go,” Rumford said. ”I started to play well in the middle of the round but just couldn’t hole any putts and put pressure back on Branden, so he’s seemingly had a nice leisurely walk this morning.”
Thomas Aiken advanced to the last eight after Shane Lowry hit his second shot from a bunker into a hazard at the first playoff hole.