Sole surviving Irishman, Pádraig Harrington, beat Argentina’s Angel Cabrera to reach the last 16 of the Accenture World Match Play Championship in California today.
It looked unlikely however when Cabrera hit his second shot on the 18th to within eight feet of the flag.
But Cabrera, who had just lost the 16th and 17th to be only one up, missed the eagle putt and they went into sudden death. Harrington had finished with three straight birdies, holing from 30 feet at the 16th to spark his comeback.
Harrington declined to hand his ball to a small boy as he went back to the first tee, saying: “I have just made three birdies with it”.
Although he could “only” par the 19th it was good enough as Cabrera bogeyed.
The Dubliner now takes on Vigay Singh, who was through to the third round for the first time in seven attempts.
Alsewher, David Howell and Luke Donald turned on the style – something Colin Montgomerie could not find no matter how hard he tried – to reach the last 16.
Four birdies in five holes gave Howell a 3&2 victory over Scott Verplank which sets him up for a clash with Phil Mickelson.
Then Donald was six under par in knocking out Darren Clarke’s conqueror Shigeki Maruyama 4&3, finishing the match off with a 32-foot putt.
He had to wait to discover who was next as Retief Goosen, two up with three to play, saw American opponent Ben Crane hole-in-one at the 183-yard 16th. But the South African won on the next.
In stark contrast Montgomerie, five over par when he somehow overcome Niclas Fasth on day one, lost 3&2 to Shingo Katayama, the Japanese player seeded 43rd this week needing to be only level par for the 16 holes.
Mickelson ended the hopes of John Daly 2&1 and on having to face the world number five on his home turf for a place in the quarter-finals, Howell said: “It will make it more of a feather in my cap if I win.
“I am just going to have to go out and shoot a good score. If you can get round in five or six under anybody is going to struggle to beat you.”
Verplank was the conqueror of Lee Westwood after a record-equalling 26-hole marathon in the first round, but he could do nothing about Howell making successive birdies of two, six and 10 feet from the 13th after they had been all square.
Tiger Woods remains favourite for the title, but after crushing Stephen Ames by a tournament record 9&8 in the first round, he bogeyed the first two holes against Australian Robert Allenby in the second before launching a comeback which ended with him sinking a seven-foot birdie putt on the last.
The crowd had a tough decision to make on their arrival at the course – watch Woods, which normally happens with the vast majority, or go with easily the most attractive match on paper, Mickelson against Daly.
Woods had been in scintillating form against Ames, but things were quickly very different on his return to the La Costa course.
Instead of grabbing birdies at the opening six holes again the world number one, winner in 2003 and 2004, handed Allenby a two-up lead, first by hooking into the trees and then by missing a four-foot par putt.
But Woods got his act together in the nick of time.
Daly came back from an early two-hole deficit as well to level when Mickelson went in the water like Jose Maria Olazabal at the eighth and he then sank a 22-footer on the next.
But the left-hander holed from similar range for eagle at the 11th and birdied the 13th and 14th to stand three-up.
A bogey on the next from Mickelson gave Daly hope, but the 16th and 17th were shared in pars and that was that.
Henrik Stenson had a chance to face Woods when he hit the better drive down the last when all square with Chad Campbell.
But the Swede went into a greenside bunker for two, failed to get up and down and Campbell won when he pitched to eight feet and made the birdie putt.
Stenson’s compatriot Carl Pettersson was also beaten on the last by Davis Love.
Vijay Singh made an astonishing start against Miguel Angel Jimenez, hitting an opening drive measured at 330 yards. The only problem was that it ran into the water and he bogeyed that and the second.
Like Woods, though, he repaired the damage and won 2&1.
American Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman caused the first upset of the day, beating ninth seed Adam Scott on the last after a match which included Lehman pitching in from 97 yards for an eagle two at the sixth.
Lehman, who it is thought might give up the captaincy or at least consider attempting both roles if he qualifies for his own team, next meets defending champion David Toms, who claimed his second successive European scalp.
After knocking out Ian Poulter at the 19th hole Toms came from two down to defeat Olazabal 2&1.
Bernhard Langer could not follow up his win over Ernie Els, losing at the 20th to Canadian Mike Weir.
Collated results in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, La Costa, Carlsbad, California (USA unless stated, seeded positions in brackets):
(7) Chris DiMarco bt (39) Arron Oberholser 6 and 5
(8) David Toms bt (25) Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa) 2 and 1
(5) Phil Mickelson bt (37) John Daly 2 and 1
(11) Colin Montgomerie (Gbr) lost to (43) Shingo Katayama (Jpn) 3 and 2
(9) Adam Scott (Aus) lost to (41) Tom Lehman 1 hole
(12) David Howell (Gbr) bt (21) Scott Verplank 3 and 2
(55) Carl Pettersson (Swe) lost to (23) Davis Love 1 hole
(59) Zach Johnson bt (38) Sean O’Hair 1 hole
(1) Tiger Woods bt (32) Robert Allenby (Aus) 1 hole
(16) Henrik Stenson (Swe) lost to (17) Chad Campbell 1 hole
(2) Vijay Singh (Fij) bt (34) Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 2 and 1
(14) Luke Donald (Gbr) bt (46) Shigeki Maruyama (Jpn) 4 and 3
(61) Bernhard Langer (Ger) lost to (36) Mike Weir (Can) at 20th
(3) Retief Goosen (Rsa) bt (35) Ben Crane 2 and 1
(15) Angel Cabrera (Arg) lost to (18) Pádraig Harrington (Irl) at 19th
(52) Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) bt (20) Nick O’Hern (Aus) at 21st.