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McIlroy, Rose & Stenson Fall in Second Round of Match Play Championship
Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose joined fellow No. 1 bracket seed Zach Johnson on the sidelines of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The $9 million WGC Match Play Championship began Wednesday at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
Stenson was beaten soundly by Louis Oosthuizen, 4 and 3, McIlroy lost on the 19th hole to Harris English, and Rose fell to Ernie Els on the 20th. Johnson lost in the opening round to Richard Sterne 5 and 4.
McIlroy was fairly erratic Thursday, missing four putts inside 10 feet and hitting a couple of wild tee shots into the desert. Despite his problems, the Northern Irishman still had a chance against the Georgia native. But the 24-year-old drove into the rough and then hit his second on the first extra hole into the scrub. After missing a 25-foot bogey putt, McIlroy conceded the match.
"Obviously a little bit disappointed with how I finished," McIlroy said. "Being two down with five to go, playing the last five holes like I did, I was happy about that. I didn't hit the greatest drive off the 19th and got a pretty bad lie in the rough. It was just unfortunate. I played pretty well for the most part. A couple of loose drives on the back nine to give him a couple of holes.
"But, you know, he played really solid today and didn't really do much wrong, didn't really give me anything. So the more consistent player won at the end of the day."
Harris was relieved to get by his opponent, a two-time major winner whose recent play has noticeably improved. "Rory is an unbelievable player, and has seemed to have found his game the last couple of months," said English, a two-time Tour winner. "I knew going into it I was going to have to bring my 'A' game and put a lot of pressure on him to end up taking the victory."
Defending champion Matt Kuchar had a tough opponent in Ryan Moore, but he pulled out a 1-up victory. In the round of 16, Kuchar will face 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who easily got past Thomas Bjorn 5 and 4.
Kuchar likes the one-to-one nature of match play. "Match play is fun," he told reporters. "It's unique, it's different. We play 72 hole stroke play every week. It's nice to change things up. Certainly makes for a lot of excitement. It's an 18 hole battle. I'm a little more tired than I would be off just a regular Thursday round coming off the course. It feels much more like a Sunday round than it does a Thursday round. It's fun."
He's also hoping to continue his strong run at Dove Mountain, where he's gone 14-3 in recent Match Play Championships. "This course has been good to me. I'm hoping to keep the good luck going."
Spieth did not lose any holes to his Danish opponent. "You know, I played the tough holes well. I hit the fairway on the tough holes. I birdied five, which is a rare birdie, I think, today. Just kept on hitting the green.
"That's the way to put the pedal down," added the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. "If you can put the ball on the green first on those par 3s and make your opponent hit it close to the hole, it's very difficult to do with how firm the greens are and the wind picking up. Pars become really good scores."
On Friday, Oosthuizen will face Webb Simpson, who beat fellow American Brandt Snedeker, 4 and 3. It took Jason Day 22 holes to edge Billy Horschel, and the Australian will next meet South African George Coetzee, who vanquished American Patrick Reed on the 21st hole.
Els will go against Jason Dufner, who beat Italy's Matteo Manassero, 2 and 1. English will face veteran Jim Furyk, who edged Charl Schwartzel of South Africa 3 and 2. Sergio Garcia of Spain earned a 3 and 1 over Bill Haas, and will next go against a resurgent Rickie Fowler, who beat Jimmy Walker, 1-up. Walker is the only three-time PGA Tour winner so far this year.
Hunter Mahan beat Sterne 2-up, and on Friday will face McDowell, who in his second straight nail-biter squeaked past Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, 1-up. At the other end of the same bracket No. 7 seed Victor Dubuisson of France forged a 3 and 1 win over Sweden's Peter Hanson to earn the chance to meet Bubba Watson, who continued his recent fine play with a 2-up victory over Sweden's Jonas Blixt.
Watson is coming off a win in last week's Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Southern California. On Thursday, Watson took an early 3-up lead on the fourth hole and, despite some struggles later in the round, hung on to advance.
For all the scores, visit http://www.worldgolfchampionships.com/accenture-match-play-championship/leaderboard.html.