MARANA, Ariz. – Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland figured his luck had run out Friday at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
After two remarkable rallies to reach the third round, McDowell missed two 8-foot putts to fall 2 down with two holes to play against American Hunter Mahan, who had lost a mere four times in 18 matches at Dove Mountain.
“My head went down as I walked off the 16th green. I really thought I blew it,” McDowell said after yet another improbable comeback. “I genuinely thought I was done this time.”
McDowell won the next two holes to extend the match. He made a 20-foot par putt on the 20th hole to stay alive and won the next hole with a 15-foot birdie putt.
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“Nine lives have been used up — and then some,” McDowell said.
Ernie Els of South Africa is 5-over par in 57 holes over three matches and reached the quarterfinals. American Jim Furyk has been at least 2 down in every match and he advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in 14 appearances. American Rickie Fowler won a match that featured an 18-foot par putt conceded to him by Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who felt bad because of a ruling he thought had taken too much time on the previous hole.
The Match Play Championship always has its share of wild tales.
McDowell tops them all.
How else to explain how a guy can play 58 holes over three matches without ever hitting a tee shot with the lead? McDowell felt some guilt.
“Embarrassed is the wrong word. I’m not embarrassed,” he said. “But I just feel like I’m robbing these guys.”
In quarterfinal matches, Jason Day of Australia plays Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa; Furyk faces Fowler; Els, 44, meets 20-year-old American Jordan Spieth; and McDowell takes on Victor Dubuisson of France.
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Nordqvist shot an even-par 72 to remain 6 under. Sandra Gal (70) of Germany, Julieta Granada (68) of Paraguay and Azahara Munoz (68) of Spain were tied for second.