Watson Last Top-10 Seed Left
MARANA, Ariz. – Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods now have plenty of company – somewhere other than the Match Play Championship.
One day after the best two players in the world went home, more top seeds followed Friday when golf’s most unpredictable tournament served up another reminder that the only time the word “upset” should be used is to describe the guys who are no longer playing.
Luke Donald, the No. 3 seed who is regarded among the best in match play, suffered his worst loss in 25 matches at this tournament. Louis Oosthuizen (No. 4) and Justin Rose (No. 5) never even reached the 17th tee when it was time for them to leave.
When another wild day ended at Dove Mountain, Masters champion Bubba Watson was the last left among the top 10 seeds.
“This game … it’s a toss-up,” Watson said after going 22 holes to beat Jim Furyk. “You can’t really judge who’s going to win, or bet who’s going to win. It really means nothing, is what I’m saying.”
At least he’s still playing, even though he made it hard on himself.
Watson missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have won the match. He missed another 5-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole. He had to stand to the side of the green as Furyk stood over a 12-foot putt to win the match. Given new life, Watson finally advanced to the third round.
It was the first time since this World Golf Championship began in 1999 that only one top-10 seed was remaining after two rounds.
Donald, who birdied his last two holes Thursday to win his opening match, didn’t know what hit him.
Scott Piercy won the first three holes, and if that wasn’t enough, he hit a 4-iron into the cup for eagle on the fifth hole and was on his way to a 7-and-6 win, a margin known as a “dog license” in Britain. Back in the day, it used to cost 7 schillings and six pence.
Robert Garrigus never trailed against Oosthuizen – Garrigus hasn’t trailed at all this week – and sounded as though he had penciled himself into the final.
“I looked at all the guys in my bracket and I was like, ‘I can beat him. I can beat him. And I can beat him.’ If I’m playing well and putting well, I’m going to be hard to beat. And a lot of guys will tell you that, too, because I hit the ball in the fairway. Because these fairways are huge, and if I can keep it out of the bushes, I’ll be all right out here.”
He’ll find out Saturday morning against Jason Day, who overcame a clutch putt on the 18th hole to beat PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley on the 19th.
Shane Lowry earned a footnote in history at this 15-year-old tournament. After knocking out McIlroy on the 18th hole of the first round, the burly Irishman became the first No. 64 seed to advance to the third round. This wasn’t that difficult, as he seized control early and beat Carl Pettersson, 6 and 5.
Two more wins on Saturday and Lowry will qualify for the next WGC event at Doral in two weeks. But there will be only one Irishman left standing on Saturday. Next up for Lowry is McDowell, who plans on having dinner Friday night.
The other giant killer, Charles Howell III, wasn’t so fortunate. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who had to finish his 1-up win over Francesco Molinari in the morning, never lost a hole in a 6-and-5 win. Howell, one day after beating Woods, didn’t make a single birdie.