June 22, 2018

McIlroy switches focus to Masters after WGC Match Play exit

26 March 2018, 01:22 | Donald Newman

Knowing that victory over Bubba Watson here in the semi-final of the WGC-Match Play would move him to world No1 for the first time in his young but remarkable career, the American became distracted.

However, Watson bounced straight back to birdie the 10th and although he left a putt short from five feet to win the next, Thomas found water with his approach to the 12th and missed good birdie chances on the next two holes.

An excellent tee shot at the fifth led to Watson giving himself the opportunity to sink another birdie at the fifth, which he grasped to go 2up, and he had a three-hole advantage after a 25-foot eagle putt at six.

The American needs to win the tournament to replace Dustin Johnson at the top of the world rankings.

The other semifinal is between Kevin Kisner and Alex Noren of Sweden. Noren had two putts inside 10 feet to win the match in regulation.

Reed in his match against Charl Schwartzel was 2-down at the turn until he won the next two holes to set up a tight finish.

"When you're hitting an 8-iron and another guy is hitting a 7- or another guy is hitting a 6-iron, obviously that's going to change everything", said Watson, who played his college golf at Georgia. "I'm excited about it - it should be good".

But a hole later, at the par-5 12th, Watson made a 7-footer for birdie to clinch the match.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia bowed out of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at the last-16 stage on Saturday after defeat to Kyle Stanley. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past.

"The middle of the round he played good and I had a few hiccups", Noren said.

Justin Thomas meets Si Woo Kim while England's Tyrrell Hatton beat Brendan Steele in a playoff and now faces Australian Cameron Smith. Howell won the group and kept alive his hopes for getting into the top 50 to earn a spot in the Masters.

"Next time I won't listen to other people".

"I just didn't get off to the same stat that I have been".

The 28-year-old credited former PGA Tour pro Brad Faxon for inspiring his magic with the flatstick, but also admitted that Wayne Rooney played a small but pivotal role, too, even if the former Manchester United striker knew nothing about it.

Garcia is certainly taking no nonsense and as his remarkable golf shot proved, his game is coming together nicely with a return to his beloved Augusta just around the corner.

Mickelson, who lost to Charles Howell III in the opening round, rallied from 4-down after eight holes and won the last three holes to beat Satoshi Kodaira.

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