Kuchar narrowly advances at Match Play
Marana, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending champion Matt Kuchar earned a hard- fought 1-up win over Ryan Moore in Thursday's second round match at the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship.
Kuchar, the second seed in the Gary Player bracket, moves on to face Jordan Spieth, who cruised to a 5 & 4 win over Thomas Bjorn. Ernie Els won the 19th hole to beat top-seeded Justin Rose. Els will take on Jason Dufner, who fought off Matteo Manassero, 2 & 1 on Thursday.
Henrik Stenson, the top seed in the Bobby Jones bracket and top overall seed, was beaten 4 & 3 by Louis Oosthuizen. Webb Simpson, the fifth seed, beat Brandt Snedeker by the same margin. Oosthuizen and Simpson will face off in the third round.
Second-seed Jason Day and 14th seeded George Coetzee both needed extra holes in round two. Day fended off Billy Horschel in 22 holes, while Coetzee held off Patrick Reed in 21 holes.
In the Ben Hogan bracket, Sergio Garcia ousted Bill Haas, 3 & 1. Garcia, the second seed, will face 14th seeded Rickie Fowler in round three. Fowler beat Jimmy Walker, who has three PGA Tour wins since October, 1-up.
In the other half of that bracket, top-seeded Rory McIlroy was beaten on the 19th hole by Harris English. Jim Furyk took down Charl Schwartzel, 3 & 2. English and Furyk will face each other in round three.
Bubba Watson is the top remaining seed in the Sam Snead bracket. The third seed held off Jonas Blixt, 2-up, will face Victor Dubuisson, a 3 & 1 winner over Peter Hanson.
The bottom half of that bracket will have Hunter Mahan, the eighth seed, facing fourth seeded Graeme McDowell. Mahan beat Richard Sterne, 2-up, and McDowell took care of Hideki Matsuyama, 1-up.
The four No. 1 seeds are all out, while three of the four No. 2 seeds remain. Garcia, at world No. 8, is the highest ranked player still competing.
Kuchar and Moore are a pair of former U.S. Amateur winners played like it in their match. Kuchar finally took the lead with birdies on 13 and 15. The pair halved the 18th with birdies as Kuchar advanced to the third round.
After Bjorn parred the fourth, Spieth pulled the flag on his fourth shot from a greenside bunker. Spieth holed the shot for par and the halve. From there, it was all Spieth. He won three in a row from the fifth to move 4-up and the match was over after 14.
"It was solid the first 11 holes. I played solid golf today, I was a few under and he didn't have his best stuff," said Spieth. "That's what you need to do out, be consistent out here, have your speed control down."
Manassero led Dufner most of their match, but Dufner squared the match on No. 12. Manassero eagled 13 to regain the lead. Dufner was conceded the 15th, then birdied 16 to grab the lead for the first time. He chipped in for birdie on 17 and when Manassero couldn't match, Dufner was off to the third round.
Els and Rose traded four win apiece through 17 holes. They both parred No. 18 and birdied the 19th, both players converted birdie putts. Els' chip shot on the 20th hole caromed off the face of the bunker and trickled within four feet. Rose left his third in the sand, then hit a stellar fourth. But Els ended the match by sinking his par-saving putt.
Oosthuizen closed out Stenson, the 2007 champion, with a 25-footer for birdie to close out Stenson.
Simpson also got off to a fast start winning four of five holes from the second. Snedeker trimmed the deficit to 2-down, but Simpson birdied No. 11 and made a 20-foot birdie try at 13. The match was over two holes later.
Horschel was 3-up after four holes against Day, but the Australian squared things up with a par on 16. Day won the match six holes later, when he converted a 4-foot birdie try.
Reed won four of five holes from the seventh to go 2-up, but Coetzee battled back with wins at 12 and 18 force extra holes. After making a par putt from just inside four feet on 18, Coetzee made a birdie putt from a similar length to close out the match on the 21st hole.
Garcia and Haas battled throughout. Haas was 2-up after seven, but needed a birdie on 13 to square the match back up. Garcia claimed three of the next four holes, two with birdies to beat Haas.
"I felt like I played well early, but Billy started strong," Garcia stated. "I felt like I played much better than yesterday."
Fowler and Walker split the first six holes. Walker, a three-time winner this season on the PGA Tour, went 1-up with a par on nine. The pair traded wins at 14 and 15, but Fowler birdied the 16th to take the lead, then 2-putted for par from long range at 18 to claim the match.
In the top half of that bracket, English and McIlroy had a see-saw battle. They each won two holes on the front nine. English won three of the first round around the turn, but McIlroy birdied the 12th. McIlroy answered with three birdies in a row from the 14th to grab a 1-up lead.
English poured in a 25-footer for birdie to square the match at 17. On the 19th hole, McIlroy hit a poor second into a bush, then blasted his third over the green. After they both chipped on, McIlroy conceded the match when his bogey effort stayed above ground.
"That shot he hit on 16 was unbelievable and I knew I had to birdie 17 or 18 to get back in it," English admitted. "It was just an awesome match."
Furyk was 2-down after three holes, but blew past Schwartzel, winning five out of six holes from the 11th to win the match.
Watson was 3-up after four holes, but he missed a 7-footer for birdie on the 16th and Blixt was able to push him to the 18th. Blixt shanked his second into a bush and a poor fourth led him to conceding the match.
Dubuisson and Hanson each ran off three straight wins on the front nine. Dubuisson regained the lead with a birdie on the eighth. He sealed the win with a par on 13 and a birdie at 17.
Mahan, the 2012 champ, rallied past Sterne by winning three of the last four holes. McDowell was 3-down after six, but birdied the 15th and 17th to square the match, then saved par on 18 to advance.
NOTES: In beating Moore, Kuchar pushes his record to 17-3 at this championship ... No player has won a World Golf Championships event in his first WGC start ... With four matches going extra holes, that matched second round record, which was first set in 2008.
02/20 20:47:27 ET