Graeme McDowell knew he was already through to the knock-out stages of the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Finca Cortesin yesterday ever before taking on South African Jbe Kruger.
So he was totally relaxed and played accordingly to win 4 and 3 and set up a clash in the last 16 this morning with Richard Finch, the Englishman who won the Irish Open at Adare in 2008 when tumbling into the River Maigue while playing a decisive third shot to the 18th.
Finch, who only got into the event through finishing 3rd in the Volvo China Open with the winner and runner-up already qualified, yesterday pulled off a shock final green victory over Martin Kaymer, the lowest ranked player in the field. The German, US PGA champion two years ago, has had a poor campaign so far and lost out yesterday when taking two to get out of a bunker at the 18th and then seeing his five foot putt for a half horseshoe out of the cup.
McDowell is already assured of a cheque for €70, 000 but has his sights set a lot more than that over the week-end.
Defending champion Ian Poulter and Justin Rose have probably been the two most impressive players so far. Poulter faces an interesting clash this morning with the big hitting local Alvaro Quiros and with Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera-Bello — they meet Tom Lewis and Robert Karlsson respectively — there is a great deal of Spanish interest remaining in the outcome.
Darren Clarke’s miseries continue after yesterday’s defeats against the English pair Robert Rock and Justin Rose. While he put up a worthy battle against Rock before losing on the home green, the British Open champion was totally outplayed by the in-form Rose who opened with three birdies and strolled home by 6 and 4.
Not even a cheque for €50, 000 provided much consolation for this latest setback even though his elimination enables him to get to Twickenham in good time to support Ulster in today’s Heineken Cup final.
This morning’s knock-out round: S Garcia v T Lewis; G McDowell v R Finch; P Lawrie v T Bjorn; R Goosen v R Rock; B Snedeker v C Villergas; J Rose v N Colsaerts; I Poulter v A Quiros and R Cabrera-Bello v R Karlsson.
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