MARANA, ARIZONA // While the golfing world switched its attention to Tiger Woods's first public appearance since November, Ian Poulter opted to let his clubs do the talking at the Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday. "It's easier if I didn't see it this morning, I wouldn't have to talk about it," the Briton said of Woods's televised apology after trouncing India's Jeev Milka Singh 5&4 in a third round match at Dove Mountain.
Poulter was part of a three-pronged British invasion into the quarter-finals at the US$8.5 million (Dh32m) World Golf Championships event, joined in the last eight by his compatriots Paul Casey and Oliver Wilson. Spain's Sergio Garcia, Stewart Cink of the United States, South Africa's Retief Goosen, Camilo Villegas of Colombia and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee also advanced to complete an international quarter-final line up.
"I got off to a great start and I pretty much kept my foot down the whole way around," said Poulter, who did not record a bogey. "Jeev hit a couple of shots a little astray, got himself in a bit of trouble and it kind of made it easier for me just to put the ball in position on the green." Goosen, by contrast, barely survived for the second successive day. After edging his compatriot Ernie Els in extra holes on Thursday, he beat Nick Watney one-up when the American missed a six-foot par putt at the final hole.
"It was a bit of a scruffy game but I got through it," said Goosen, who set up a match against Villegas, a teammate from last year's Presidents Cup, in the quarters. A day after knocking out Geoff Ogilvy, the defending champion, Villegas was one down against Ben Crane at the turn, but stormed home to triumph 3&2. "You've got to keep it going, be patient, and I came back strong at the end," Villegas said.
Cink, the lone American survivor in Arizona, sank an 18-foot putt at the final hole to remain all-square with South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, before winning with a six-foot birdie at the next. "If I didn't make that putt [on 18] I was going home," the British Open champion said. "It was just the kind of stuff you almost dream of. My mentality was that I didn't feel like I was ever going to lose, even with the last hole needing a par to keep going."
Casey, the sixth and highest remaining seed, won at a canter, 5&4 over the American Brian Gay. Wilson went two extra holes before eliminating Luke Donald in an all-British affair. "It wasn't sparkling golf," said Wilson. "I'm just delighted to come through that. Thongchai emerged from an all-Asian battle with a 5&4 victory over Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, while Garcia edged the South African Tim Clark 2&1.
"What pleased me the most is that I finally played better today," Garcia said. "I probably didn't putt it as well as yesterday but I made a couple of big putts in the last four or five holes." * Reuters