It’s been a tough three days, but those that have survived will tee it up on Saturday for the Division finals at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships. Everyone else has moved on to Florida to wait for the Honda Classic next week. If we were talking about March Madness here, this would be Elite Eight Saturday and by the end of the day only the Final Four will remain.
Although there are some regulars that we know to be good world-class Match Play golfers still alive, there were some surprises getting to the Divisional finals today. Gone are 2013 Accenture Champ, Matt Kuchar, 2012 Accenture Champ, Hunter Mahan, and gone is the 2012 US Open Champ, Webb Simpson. Looks like the heart and soul of the 2014 Team USA Ryder Cup hopefuls have been eliminated.
Sam Snead Division
I sure hope you were listening the other day when I told you to watch out for Victor Dubuisson. I told you the youngster from France could play the game. I knew he was good in metal play, but like the rest of the world, found out this week that he can compete in this format as well.
Dubuisson dispatched Bubba Waton on Friday and has earned a Saturday date in the fourth round with the cat who has nine lives, Graeme McDowell. Graeme McDowell didn’t have to come from as far back in the third round as he did in previous days, but he did have to take the 2012 Champ to 21 holes to get the victory.
This has to be one of the premier matchups for Saturday. Dubuisson is small of stature, but pounds the ball almost as far as Bubba. He will face a wile opponent today in Graeme McDowell but if the first three days are any indication, the Northern Irishman is a tough as nails competitor and should give the young Frenchman a lesson in match play golf.
Ben Hogan Division
Jim Furyk came from three down on Friday to beat a hopeful Harris English. It was a typical Jim Furyk performance as the veteran chipped away at the lead all day, and simply wore the youngster down. Furyk finally turned the corner when he chipped in on the 16th hole and held on for the one up win.
This was Jim Furyk’s first third round victory in 14 appearances in this event. As a nearby University of Arizona grad, he garnered a bunch of local support, and will move on today to face Rickie Fowler.
Rickie Fowler must have left his putter in the clubhouse until the 9th hole, but when he finally found it, he was able to dispatch Sergio Garcia in typical fashion. It was a quirky match that had a bee incident at the 6th hole, and conceded 17 foot putts at seven. Strange, but I’m sure Rickie Fowler will take the win.
Bobby Jones Division
Action in the Bobby Jones Division on Saturday was not very compelling. 2010 Open Champ, Louis Oosthuizen steam-rolled Webb Simpson. The popular South African traded the lead with the 2012 US Open Champ for a couple of early holes, but got the match All Square at the sixth hole, went one up on seven, and never looked back. He will face Jason Day on Saturday who took care of South African, George Coetzee 3 & 1.
Gary Player Division
The Gary Player Division featured a couple of pretty good matches on Friday. The surprise of the day was the 2013 Rookie of the Year taking care of the defending Champ. As one of the better matches of the day, it was Jordan Spieth who outlasted Matt Kuchar down the stretch. Kuchar lead only one time and that was after a birdie at the second hole but he played well enough, and got close at 13. Spieth birdied the 17th hole, and put the match away 2 & 1.
Jordan Spieth will face off against Ernie Els on Saturday for the Quarterfinal. Ernie outlasted Jason Dufner in round three, but neither played especially well. The four-time major champ will need his A-Game and a hot putter if he wants to make it to the Final Four on Sunday.
There is a nice mix of young talent, and grizzled veterans remaining at The Accenture Match Play. It should be an exciting weekend at Dove Mountain, if the nice weather holds.
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