Graeme McDowell produced another superb fightback, but Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose went out at extra holes at WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship last night.
McDowell reprised his first-round heroics by coming from behind to reach the last 16 with victory over Hideki Matsuyama on the 18th hole at Dove Mountain.
The Ulsterman had trailed by three after six holes and was still two down with four to play at the Arizona course.
But after coming from four down after seven – and three down with three holes remaining – against Gary Woodland on Wednesday, he was not fazed by a repeat scenario.
He played steadily throughout and luck had been against him early on, most notably when Matsuyama chipped in from the rough at the second.
Birdies at the eighth and ninth set up a tight back nine and Matsuyama eventually cracked when he missed a short putt at the 17th.
The Japanese player compounded that error by putting his tee shot at the last into a bunker and McDowell parred to complete another fine fightback.
“I was hoping to not expend as much emotion but that didn’t happen,” said McDowell.
“It was another emotional day but I guess I am just happy to still be standing.”
Fellow Northern Irishman McIlroy saw his bid ended by American Harris English at the 19th.
McIlroy appeared to have victory within sight as he put aside earlier putting frustrations to hit form on the back nine.
The world number seven won four out of five holes to lead by one after 16, but Harris, impressive winner over Lee Westwood in round one, replied to take the contest to sudden death.
It was at the first extra hole that McIlroy’s touch deserted him as he failed to recover from a poor tee shot.
He went wide to the left and could then only pitch into desert rough between a bush and a tree. From there he overshot the green and there was no way back.
English said: “I had to bring my ’A’ game to beat him. Rory really fought back hard, birdying 14 through 16. I knew I needed to make something happen on 17 and 18.”
Reigning US Open champion Rose was beaten at the 20th by veteran Ernie Els after another tight contest.
Rose’s undoing came as he failed to get his third shot to the par-five hole out of a bunker, while Els chipped superbly from just wide of the same sand to set up a birdie.
There had been little between the two players throughout.
Els eagled the third and birdied the fourth to take an early two-hole lead, but Rose won two of the next three to level and went ahead when the South African bogeyed the 12th.
They were all square at the 18th tee after Rose bogeyed the 17th.
Both players hit poor second shots as Rose found a bunker and Els saw his approach roll back off the green.
Yet there were no nerves on display as both got up and down and then impressively birdied the 19th before the match concluded at the next.
Top seed Henrik Stenson, the world number three, advanced no further as he was beaten 4&3 by Louis Oosthuizen.
Defending champion Matt Kuchar came from one down with six to play to beat Ryan Moore one up.
Sergio Garcia overcame Bill Haas 3&1 after winning four out of six holes in a strong sequence on the back nine.
The Spaniard will next play Rickie Fowler, who won a high-quality match with this season’s form player Jimmy Walker one up.
French Ryder Cup hopeful Victor Dubuisson saw an early three-hole lead wiped out, but recovered his poise to beat Peter Hanson 3&1.
Bubba Watson, who led by three after just four holes, survived a late wobble before seeing off Jonas Blixt two up.
Blixt threatened to make life difficult by winning the 12th and 14th, but short missed putts at the 15th and 16th and a penalty drop on the last ended his hopes.
American youngster Jordan Spieth produced one of the day’s most impressive performances, beating Thomas Bjorn 5&4.
Hunter Mahan, who will now play McDowell in a repeat of the decisive match at the 2010 Ryder Cup, beat Richard Sterne two up.