Paul Casey recorded yet another hugely impressive win today to reach the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for the second year running in Tucson.
Last year’s runner-up, seeded sixth and the highest-ranked player left in the event, has still to go beyond the 14th hole after crushing little-known American Brian Gay 5&4.
It was the same margin of victory he recorded over Canadians Stephen Ames and Mike Weir, but on this occasion Casey had to come from behind.
After bogeying the first, Gay won the next two holes, but a superb pitch to four feet on the fourth levelled things up and Casey then ran away with the contest around the turn.
Five birdies in six holes swept the former HSBC Match Play champion – a title he won at Wentworth in 2006 – four clear with six to go, and he soon converted that into his victory.
Casey was one of four English players in the last 16. He looked like being joined by Ian Poulter, who led Indian Jeev Milkha Singh by five with six holes remaining, but one of the others had to depart.
That was because Oliver Wilson and Luke Donald were facing each other and from two-up after 10 Wilson was hauled back to all square with three to play.
Poulter, with a chance to go to a career-high fifth in the world by reaching Sunday’s 36-hole final, was the only other top-10 seed to survive the first two days.
An 11-foot birdie putt was the perfect start against Singh, but once again it was the middle section of the round that settled things.
Poulter went two-up with a 15-footer on the fifth, Singh bogeyed the eighth and 10th and then could not match Poulter’s birdie on the long next.
Donald had looked as solid as a rock in beating Graeme McDowell and Robert Allenby, but in more windy conditions he had three front-nine bogeys in falling two down.
However, a chip to three feet won him the 587-yard 11th and Wilson bogeyed himself three holes later.
The other European still involved was Spain’s Sergio Garcia and he beat South African Tim Clark 2&1 to set up a duel tomorrow with either Wilson or Donald.
South Africa had three hopes themselves. Retief Goosen stood two-up on American Nick Watney after 11 and Charl Schwartzel was level with Open champion Stewart Cink – second and third the last two years – with three left.