Graeme McDowell World bid extra special
Graeme McDowell's clash with Hunter Mahan in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona last night was every bit as dramatic as their 2010 Ryder Cup showdown at Celtic Manor – and again the Ulsterman triumphed.
G-Mac was yet again involved in a match that went right to the wire, a third extra hole required to decide who went through to face France's Victor Dubuisson in today's quarter-finals.
And a McDowell birdie sealed victory.
"It's entertaining but I would rather have it much easier," said a relieved McDowell.
McDowell had to come from behind for the third day in succession – two down with two to play this time – in the last 16 of the $9million tournament.
McDowell had reached the third round at Dove Mountain thanks to superb fightbacks against Gary Woodland and Hideki Matsuyama, most notably recovering from three down with three to play to beat the former on the 19th. The 2010 US Open champion was also two down with four to play against the latter before winning on the 18th, meaning the only time he had been in front in both matches had been on the final hole.
It was perhaps no surprise therefore that McDowell lost the first two holes against Mahan, the man he beat in the final singles match at Celtic Manor in 2010 to secure overall victory for Europe.
McDowell looked to be on his way out when he three-putted the 16th to fall two down, but a par was good enough to win the 17th and a superb birdie on the 18th sent the contest into extra holes.
Dubuisson was awaiting the winner, holding off a late rally from Bubba Watson to win on the 18th and edge ever closer to securing his Ryder Cup place.
"I'm ready because I have good experience of match play as an amateur," he said.
"I hope the three matches I have won will help me get into the team."
European captain Paul McGinley looked on with interest.
"It's great experience for him and I like that he was pushed to the 18th and played it like a real professional," said the Dubliner.
"It means a lot and is further evidence that he is ready to step up to the next level."
Rickie Fowler birdied the 18th to edge past Sergio Garcia.
However, the match is likely to be remembered more for a strange incident on the seventh hole when Garcia offered Fowler a half, despite the Spaniard facing five feet for par and Fowler three times that distance.
That was reportedly because Garcia felt bad he had taken a long time to get a free drop away from a colony of bees on the edge of the green on the previous hole.