|Ian Poulter was focused on today’s final by the time he teed off on No. 12, his final hole of a 7-and-6 victory over Sergio Garcia. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)|
Poulter rolls to final; Villegas, Casey square
Ian Poulter made short work of Sergio Garcia yesterday, then retreated to his hotel room and started posting on Twitter as he waited to find out who his opponent would be in today’s final of the Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz.
Paul Casey and Camilo Villegas are making him wait much longer than he anticipated.
They exchanged a series of great shots and clutch putts through 23 holes until twilight in the high desert made it too dark to continue. Casey and Villegas will conclude the longest match of the week this morning.
The final stroke of a long day belonged to Villegas. The 28-year-old Colombian had a 3-foot par putt on his 23d hole (No. 14) to win the match, but he pushed it badly to the right and gave Casey an unlikely reprieve.
The match went overtime when Casey, who didn’t take his first lead until the 15th hole, missed an 8-foot par putt on the 18th hole.
They gave each other 4-foot par putts on No. 10, the first extra hole, and Villegas escaped trouble on the par-5 11th when he blasted out of a desert bush, hammered a fairway metal onto the green, and halved the hole with par.
On the 22d hole (No. 13), Villegas hit a tough bunker shot from 50 yards that stopped 2 feet from the hole for a conceded birdie, only to have Casey knock in a 6-foot birdie to extend the match.
Poulter had finished nearly three hours earlier after equaling the shortest match of the tournament with a 7-and-6 victory.
Poulter had a far more difficult time reaching the semifinals.
Thongchai Jaidee, the No. 48 seed, had never trailed in 59 holes until Poulter won the 17th hole with a par to go 1 up. Poulter won on the 18th when Thongchai’s 15-foot birdie hung on the lip.
Earlier in the day, Casey built an early lead and defeated British Open champion Stewart Cink, 5 and 4. It was the fourth time in as many matches that Casey had closed out his opponent by that score.
Cink’s loss meant no Americans reached the semifinals for the first time in tournament history.
In the other quarterfinal matches, Garcia pulled away late to beat Oliver Wilson, 4 and 3; and Villegas built a 4-up lead at the turn and defeated Retief Goosen, 4 and 3.
The morning chill turned worse as gray clouds moved in, and rain began falling as the quarterfinals were ending. The rain came down so hard that play was halted for 10 minutes early in the semifinal matches.
The golf was as miserable as the weather.
Garcia took five shots to reach the first green before conceding the hole. Casey topped a tee shot so badly on the 209-yard third hole that it traveled barely 100 yards and didn’t even reach the water hazard.
Poulter had a blast when the weather improved, winning four straight holes to build a big lead, then effectively closing out the match with four straight birdies.
LPGA - Suzann Pettersen had her third straight bogey-free round, shooting a 4-under 68 to open a five-stroke lead in the season-opening
The 2007 champion from Norway said she drank 12 bottles of water in the extreme heat during yesterday’s round. She is 18-under 198 for the tournament after shooting 66 and 64 in the first two rounds.
After a sluggish start, Song-Hee Kim birdied three of the last four holes for a 68. She is 13 under.
PGA - Joe Durant remained in position for his first PGA Tour victory since 2006, birdieing the final two holes for 2-under 69 and a two-stroke lead in the Mayakoba Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Charles Warren (65) and J.P. Hayes (69) were tied for second behind the 45-year-old Durant, a four-time tour winner.
Chad Collins (67) and Cameron Beckman (69) followed at 11 under, with Kevin Stadler (67) at 10 under.
Champions - Tim Simpson eagled the 18th to tie Tommy Armour for the lead at 13 under entering today’s final round of the
Armour put together a stretch of five straight birdies on the back side en route to an 8-under 64. Simpson shot a 65.
Bernhard Langer (65) and John Cook (66) were a stroke behind, while Nick Price (65), Joey Sindelar (65), Loren Roberts (67), and Tom Lehman (67) were 11 under.