McDowell digs deep to progress while Rory exits WGC-Accenture Match Play

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Graeme McDowell produced another stirring fightback to reach the third round of the WGC-Accenture Match-Play yesterday in Arizona.

McDowell, who was forced to battle past Gary Woodland in round one, found himself two down with four to play against Hideki Matsuyama but produced a strong finishing burst to win on the 18th.

GMAC will now play American Hunter Mahan in round three, a player he famously defeated to win the Ryder Cup for Europe in 2010.

“Hunter is a good friend, we went through a lot in 2010 and he might well be looking for some revenge,” said McDowell.

“There was a lot of key moments out there but that putt on 16 was important. That gave me the opportunity to go down the last couple of holes. To be honest I’m just happy to be standing here.”

Rory McIlroy’s challenge came to an end yesterday at the hands of American Harris English.

World number seven McIlroy appeared to have victory within his grasp as he hit form on the back nine.

He won four out of five holes to lead by one after 16 but English, impressive winner over Lee Westwood in round one, replied to take the contest to sudden death.

It was at the first extra hole that McIlroy’s touch deserted him as he failed to recover from a poor tee shot.

He went wide to the left and could then only pitch into desert rough between a bush and a tree. From there he overshot the green and there was no way back.

It was a disappointing end to a high-quality contest in which few other holes had been settled by mistakes.

English twice led on the front nine but his successes on the second and seventh were immediately cancelled out by McIlroy and the match was all square again at the turn.

McIlroy might have rued a missed putt at the ninth that would have put him ahead when English struck out by taking the 10th and 11th.

But McIlroy, whose iron play had been outstanding, found his touch on the greens to win the 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th, all with birdies, and edge ahead for the first time.

But English stemmed that momentum with a birdie of his own at 17 and he held his nerve to prevail on the 19th.

“I had to bring my ‘A’ game to beat Rory today,” said English.

“He fought back hard and I knew I had to produce something on 17 or 18 and thankfully I got a one to drop on 17.”