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British invade round of 16

Westwood out as 4 other Englishmen remain in field
2010-02-19T00:00:00Z British invade round of 16Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 19, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain might seem a world away for the English golfers playing in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

But, for now, it's home.

Four Brits - Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Oliver Wilson and Luke Donald - advanced to the round of 16 on Thursday.

Wilson called the British invasion "good news."

The English foursome survived a brutal two days of competition that saw the four top-seeded players, including countryman Lee Westwood, eliminated.

Poulter was more effusive.

"I think it's a great era for guys to be coming through playing great golf," he said. "I think we do have to look at how good the English players are right now, and give them a lot of credit for being able to move up in the world rankings, as they have for the last 10 years."

For years, Westwood, a PGA Tour veteran, was the best England had to offer. That changed with the international emergence of Poulter - a gutsy golfer and fashion plate - and Casey.

Casey, who played collegiately at Arizona State, advanced to last year's Match Play final. No player has looked better in this year's tournament, either. Casey rolled Mike Weir 5 and 4 Thursday in the day's second-biggest rout.

As the Match Play brackets progress, and the list of players shrinks, the Brits will eventually have to turn on each other. Wilson will face Donald today to make it to the round of eight; three Brits could make the semifinals.

"You obviously want to be the last Englishman standing here, if you can. I think that's fun," Casey said. "I think it's great how many good players we've got coming out of the UK right now. "We're all friends, but I think we're all competitors deep down, and would like to be the best Englishman - not just this week, but in the world rankings and all the rest of it."

Stewart's strong

Stewart Cink advanced to the round of 16 for the third consecutive year, but it wasn't easy.

The Georgia native beat Sean O'Hair 1-up on Thursday, a day after rallying to defeat Italy's Edoardo Molinari 2-up. Cink birdied No. 17 to take the lead; he and O'Hair halved the final hole.

"It was a battle. We knew it would be," Cink said. "Sean is a real feisty competitor, and he's a great player. He's got a lot of skills. He's just never going to back down. I knew it was going to be a tough fight."

Cink dodged a possible pairing with fellow American Jim Furyk when the former Arizona Wildcats star fell to South Africa's Charl Schwartzel 3 and 2. Schwartzel has gone two days without making a bogey.

"The greens are so severe. I was hitting into fairways and hitting really good iron shots in the right places," he said. "And it comes down to placing your iron shots on these greens."

Who dat?

Thongchai Jaidee and Jeev Milkha Singh played their second-round matches in front of tiny, almost nonexistent galleries.

Both won anyway.

Jaidee, a native of Thailand, dispatched Robert Karlsson 4 and 3. Singh, India's brightest golf star, defeated Matt Kuchar 1-up in a match attended - at first, anyway - by one fan, his personal coach.

Singh, who stunned Ireland's Padraig Harrington 1-up on Wednesday, said his match was "hard work."

"I ground it out, and I think that's what Match Play is about," he said. "You can't lose your patience, and you have to hole those short putts, and that's what I did today."

Jaidee was 6-up through 12 holes before Karlsson rallied with two birdies. The two halved the 15th hole, ending the match.

"Yeah, a good day," Jaidee said. "He didn't play well on the front nine. He came back on the back nine a bit."

The round of 16, by country

4: England (Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Oliver Wilson, Luke Donald), United States (Nick Watney, Ben Crane, Stewart Cink, Brian Gay)

3: South Africa (Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Charl Schwartzel)

1: Colombia (Camilo Villegas), Japan (Ryo Ishikawa), Thailand (Thongchai Jaidee), India (Jeev Milkha Singh), Spain (Sergio Garcia)

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