Strong finish lifts Kaymer

2011-02-26 07:18

Marana - Germany's Martin Kaymer finished strongly to win his third-round contest at the $8.5 million Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday.

Kaymer, the overall second seed in the elite World Golf Championships event, had his hands full against American Hunter Mahan and was behind for most of the day.

But the 26-year-old German, who won last August's PGA Championship, came good to win three successive holes at the end and clinch the match 2 and 1 at the Ritz-Carlton's Dove Mountain course.

Kaymer is the highest seed through to the quarter-finals. England's Luke Donald, the ninth seed overall, is the next best-ranked player still standing.

After upsets galore in the second round, there were relatively few surprises on Friday. The biggest was perhaps South Korean Yang Yong-Eun's 3 and 2 victory over US Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.

Yang next faces American Matt Kuchar, a 2 and 1 winner over compatriot Rickie Fowler.

A day after taking two extra holes to win his second round match, Kaymer again did it the hard way, but came through with a clutch performance.

"Yesterday against Justin (Rose) we both played great golf and today it was a fantastic match," Kaymer said.

"It was all about birdies and not making bogeys and giving holes away. He made some really long, good birdie putts."

Kaymer rated his 11-foot birdie at the par-three 16th, where he took the lead, as the pivotal hole.

"I think the tee shot on 16 was probably the key shot of the match. A little bit into the wind, I hit a great three-iron.

"Making those shots in those conditions, they make me feel very proud and give me the motivation I can pull off those important shots when I have to."

Kaymer has a chance to become number one in the world if he makes Sunday's final, but it's not his most urgent priority.

"If I can get up one more spot, of course I wouldn't mind, but I think I'll have a chance the next few weeks, few months, as well," he said.

Kaymer will play fellow European Miguel Jimenez in Saturday's quarter-finals, after Jimenez thrashed American Ben Crane 7 and 6.

"When I'm playing well, I'm not afraid of anything," said Jimenez, at 47 the oldest player in the field. "I'm not that young but I keep playing well."

Englishman Donald ended the fairytale run of 17-year-old Matteo Manassero, with a comfortable 3 and 2 victory.

"I played really solid today, didn't give Matteo too much," Donald said. "I made him work for it. He pushed me at the end but I held on."

Manassero was hardly shattered to lose.

"I am delighted with the way I played this week," he said. "I didn't play worse than the other two days. I just met a tough competitor. He didn't make a bogey."

Next up for Donald is Ryan Moore, who prevailed at the 19th hole over fellow American Nick Watney in the day's only match that went extra holes.

Americans J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson will meet in the other quarter-final after they both eliminated Australian opponents.

Holmes won the last two holes to edge Jason Day 1-up, while Watson overpowered Geoff Ogilvy 6 and 4.

Results on Friday from the third round of the $8.5 million World Golf Championships Match Play Championship (x denotes seed):

Bobby Jones bracket
Ryan Moore (USA x12) bt Nick Watney (USA x8) 19 holes
Luke Donald (ENG x3) bt Matteo Manassero (ITA x15) 3 and 2

Ben Hogan bracket
Matt Kuchar (USA x4) bt Rickie Fowler (USA x8) 2 and 1
Yang Yong-Eun (KOR x11) bt Graeme McDowell (NIR x2) 3 and 2

Gary Player bracket
Martin Kaymer (GER x1) bt Hunter Mahan (USA x5) 2 and 1
Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP x6) bt Ben Crane (USA x10) 7 and 6

Sam Snead bracket
Bubba Watson (USA x5) bt Geoff Ogilvy (AUS x8) 6 and 4
J.B. Holmes (USA x6) bt Jason Day (AUS x10) 1-up

Pairings for Saturday's quarter-finals of the $8.5 million World Golf Championships Match Play Championship (x denotes seed):

Bobby Jones bracket
Ryan Moore (USA x12) v Luke Donald (ENG x3)

Ben Hogan bracket
Yang Yong-Eun (KOR x11) v Matt Kuchar (USA x4)

Gary Player bracket
Martin Kaymer (GER x1) v Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP x6)

Sam Snead bracket
Bubba Watson (USA x5) v J.B. Holmes (USA x6)