Poulter routs Sergio in Match Play semis

BY foxsports • February 20, 2010

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."

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