Patrick Reed gained a small measure of revenge for last month’s Ryder Cup defeat by knocking European hero Jamie Donaldson out of the Volvo World Match Play Championship yesterday.
And another key member of the victory at Gleneagles also fell by the wayside at The London Club in Kent as defending champion Ireland’s Graeme McDowell suffered his second successive defeat.
McDowell lost by two holes to Holland’s Joost Luiten to miss out on the knockout stages for the first time in four appearances in the event, the Antrim man having reached the quarter-finals in 2011, the final in 2012 and winning last year in Bulgaria.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher had already been eliminated after losing his first two matches, leaving Victor Dubuisson and Henrik Stenson to fly the flag for the victorious European team this weekend.
Stenson and Reed will enjoy a rematch of their Ryder Cup singles clash in the semi-finals if they can see off Jonas Blixt and George Coetzee respectively in the last eight, with Dubuisson taking on Mikko Ilonen and Luiten facing Pablo Larrazabal in the other quarter-finals.
“Henrik will have revenge on his mind but I will too,” said Reed, who beat Stenson on the 18th at Gleneagles to finish as the top US points scorer on his debut.
Donaldson, who secured the winning point against Keegan Bradley to make it three wins from four matches on his debut was never ahead against Reed, who carded six birdies but was also crucially gifted the 11th as Donaldson three-putted from close range.
Birdies on the 12th and 14th took Reed four ahead with four to play and although Donaldson kept the match alive by almost holing his second shot to the par-five 15th and hitting his tee shot to two feet on the next, Reed also made birdie on the 16th to seal the win.
Reed hit the headlines at the Ryder Cup for signalling to the European fans to keep quiet when he made crucial putts, but admitted he expected more banter with the crowds this week.
“I had a couple of shushes on eight, the par three,” he said. “If I had made the putt, I would have turned round to do it back and try to get them going but unfortunately I missed it!
“I thought I would have heard more because it was the first time I was playing a guy on the Ryder Cup team since the Ryder Cup but the fans loved the golf we were playing.”
The best golf of the day came in the match between Blixt and England’s Paul Casey, who both finished 10 under par and went into a sudden-death play-off to decide who finished second to Reed in their group. A par at the first extra hole was enough for Blixt to advance, after Casey’s approach found water guarding the green.
McDowell was ‘only’ three under in losing to Luiten, who birdied three of the last four holes to become the only player to win all three of his group matches.
“A bit like yesterday, I ran into a guy on form,” said McDowell, who was three up after eight holes.
“I thought I had the match in control but the putter abandoned me at the 11th hour. I just kind of used my putts up against Alex (Levy) on Wednesday.
“I’m very disappointed by my defence of the title but there was a lot of quality golf out there. If you’re not shooting 64 or 65, you’re going home. But I hit the ball beautifully with a new set of irons and a new ball in the bag this week and I can’t wait to get to China now. I’m in the mood to get on a plane now to China, so bring it on.”
Stenson made sure of his place in the quarter-finals in style by holing his second shot to the 17th to beat 2013 runner-up Thongchai Jaidee 2&1, while Coetzee advanced despite losing 2&1 to Francesco Molinari.
After 10 straight singles defeats Gallacher defeated Dubuisson 2&1 in their dead rubber, while Larrazabal defeated Ireland’s Shane Lowry by the same score.
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