Lawrie and McDowell lead Match Play semis

Lawrie and McDowell lead Match Play semis

Scotland's Paul Lawrie was off to a dream start in his Volvo World Match Play semi-final at Finca Cortesin in Spain today.

Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who also reached the last four a year ago, found the bushes on the first and conceded that, then lost the next three holes as well.

He bogeyed the short second and could not match the two Lawrie birdies that followed.

Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell was soon in control against Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello as well, winning the second and third.

They were playing for high stakes. The winner of the title takes home almost £560,000 and the runner-up just short of £288,000 - plus a bundle of Ryder Cup points, of course.

Former Open champion Lawrie has not played in the match since 1999, while McDowell, of course, was the match-winning hero at Celtic Manor last time.

Colsaerts, biggest hitter in Europe this season, had to wait until the long eighth for his first success - and even then it was due to Lawrie finding the bushes with his second shot.

A bogey six by the 43-year-old brought his lead down to three, while McDowell, having gone three up with a birdie at the fourth, lost the next and had to work hard for halves on the next two.

At the short sixth he made a nine-footer for par and Cabrera-Bello missed a six-foot birdie chance, then on the next the 2010 US Open champion got up and down from left of the green to remain two ahead.

Colsaerts birdied the ninth from 10 feet to turn only two down and Lawrie was relieved to keep it that way on the long 11th - halved in double-bogey sevens in the wet and windy conditions.

He saw his opponent carve his drive into the bushes but hooked his, had to take a penalty drop and then found more trouble.

Cabrera-Bello's pitch to three feet on the ninth put him only one down and McDowell had to sink a 10-footer to stay ahead at the next.

After the comedy of errors on the 11th Colsaerts rescued a half at the next by playing a chip up and down a bank over the green, then put himself only one down with an eight-foot birdie putt on the 13th.

Cabrera-Bello found the 11th too much for him as well, hooking into the bushes like Lawrie and conceding after four shots to be two down again.

Lawrie lost the last of his four-hole advantage when Colsaerts birdied again at the driveable 14th, a hole he had eagled against Justin Rose.

McDowell bogeyed the short 12th, but a nine-foot birdie putt restored his two-hole lead on the next.

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