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Saturday 19 January 2019

Joy for McDowell but McIlroy gets butchered

After two days of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson there are only three top 10 seeds left -- and they are all European.

Martin Kaymer has another chance to take the world number one spot this weekend following Lee Westwood's second round defeat to American Nick Watney yesterday.

Either Graeme McDowell or Luke Donald, meanwhile, could be world number three by Sunday night after they both made it into the last 16 as well.

Donald, the ninth seed, was facing another Italian job today. After knocking out Ryder Cup team-mate Edoardo Molinari he now faces 17-year-old Matteo Manassero, a rising star if ever there was one.

McDowell, meanwhile, faces Korean YE Yang, knowing that even if he loses he will move ahead of Tiger Woods -- beaten by Thomas Bjorn on Wednesday -- on the world rankings.

"If someone told me at some point in my career I would be number three in the world I'd be proud of that fact," said the Irishman.

"I'm perhaps a better golfer than Tiger in the last 12 months, but he's definitely the greatest player that's ever lived I think and it would be nice to slip past him for a little while."

The US Open champion found himself being asked as many questions about 21-year-old compatriot Rory McIlroy as he did about his own victory over England's Ross Fisher.



INSPIRED

McIlroy was crushed 8&7 by an inspired Ben Crane and only Canadian Stephen Ames has ever suffered a bigger defeat in the event. Ames lost 9&8 to Woods five years ago.

"I can't really get my head around that right now," commented McDowell. "This golf course sets up for the Rory McIlroy-type driver of the ball and Ben Crane is not really known for length, but a guy who is just holing everything on you can wear you out.

"I think Rory's looking inside as to how he can continue to get better. Everyone's career is going to have setbacks and this is just a mini setback.

"As long as he can learn and put what he learns to good use it's only a matter of time in my opinion until he becomes a phenomenal player and a prolific winner."

If Donald wins the title McDowell will have to be among the semi-finalists to take the world number three spot, while to go to number one Kaymer has to reach the final.

The German, who needed two extra holes to get past Justin Rose, now takes on Hunter Mahan, the American whose loss to McDowell at Celtic Manor last October gave Europe the Ryder Cup.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, Europe's other survivor, who was 47 last month, is up against Crane for a place in the quarter-finals.

Westwood also lost to Watney last year and has now played the tournament 11 times without ever getting to the third round.

Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els also tumbled out, Mickelson 6&5 to America's great young hope Rickie Fowler.

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