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February 18, 2010

Live Blog: Day 2 of WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

Golf Magazine's Cameron Morfit is live blogging the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Join the conversation by leaving a question or comment below.

LeaderboardRound 1 Photos | Course Profile | TV Schedule

5:58 Here's what it looks like for day three: Ishikawa vs. Jaidee, Singh vs. Poulter, Clark vs. Garcia, Wilson vs. Donald, Watney vs. Els/Goosen, Crane vs. Villegas, Schwartzel vs. Cink, and Casey vs. Gay. I like Ishikawa, Poulter, Clark, Wilson, Watney, Villegas, Cink and Casey to advance. And judging from the way things have been going in this tournament, I'll be lucky if I'm even half-right. So long everyone--until tomorrow's non-press conference from you know who.

5:55 Just when it looked like Els was taking command, he hits a 7-iron that goes about 90 feet past the pin. Goosen missed the green way right. Anybody want to win this last match? And good for Ishikawa, doing an interview with Golf Channel's Jim Gray. I give the kid major props for trying out his English on national television.

5:52 And down goes Westwood, as Watney advances to the third round to play the winner of the Els/Goosen match. Ishikawa closes out McGowan, whoever he was. No more top seeds remain.

5:50 Okay, Els finally makes a birdie putt after his lackluster chip on 15. Maybe he'll pull this thing out after all. Goosen misses 10-foot birdie putt to fall 1-down to Ernie with three remaining.

5:47 Strangest sponsorship in golf: UPS pitchman Lee Westwood, who's on the ropes in his match against Watney. Els is hitting some nervous looking shots coming in, including that not so bueno chip on 15. He should probably have closed out Goosen by now with any kind of timely putting.  

5:44 If you accept that Casey is the man to beat now, you've got to put Cink as a close second in that department. The reigning British Open champion just knocked off O'Hair to advance to round three, where he'll play Schwartzel. Golf Channel points out almost every match today has been won by the lower seed, making this nutty event the short-track speed skating of golf.

5:39 Watney has Westwood on the ropes, with a 2-up lead with two to play. Barring a stirring comeback, Westwood's record of futility in this event continues: 10 starts, never past the second round. At least his kids will be glad to see him.

5:34 Ishikawa, 18, is looking more and more like the best of the bunch when it comes to the crowded field of prodigies. I remember watching him at the Presidents Cup, alternate-shot, when he had to follow Tiger's opening tee shot. Ryo blasted his own tee shot right down the sprinkler line, as far as Woods, then gave the thumbs-up to International captain Greg Norman. A few days later he beat Kenny Perry. Interviewing Ishikawa at Pebble last week, the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out that Perry was old enough to be Ishikawa's dad. The Japanese star laughed and admitted it was true, but that he'd been beating his dad since he was 11.  

5:26 So far this week is definitely putting the "world" into the World Golf Championships. So far we've got Thailand (Jaidee), India (Singh), Colombia (Villegas), South Africa (Clark, Schwartzel), Spain (Garcia), England (Casey, Donald, Poulter, Wilson) and America (Crane, Gay) represented in the third round. 

5:25 Els just missed yet another short birdie putt on par-5 13th hole, another gift to Goosen. Big Easy is putting like he has for most of the last five years or so and they remain all square. Ishikawa inching closer to closing out 66th-ranked McGowan, Cink looking like he's going to go 1-up over O'Hair. 

5:16 Nick Watney rolls in birdie putt to regain 1-up lead over Westwood, the last remaining top seed. There are still a few big names on the board, but this could very easily turn into another year like the first Accenture, when Maggert beat Magee in the 38-hole final. (The ultimate experience for sports fans everywhere: Two extra holes of Maggert and Magee.)  

5:15 Goosen makes short birdie putt to square his match with Els. Do these guys even like each other? You'd never know they were countrymen who have known each other for years.

5:10 Okay, I've avoided it long enough. It's time to tackle the big issue of the day: Why is Tim Clark using a yellow golf ball? He said Wednesday he only started using it when he put it in play for nine holes of his practice round Tuesday, for no particular reason. Here are his comments, courtesy of ASAP Sports: "It's just a color. I don't hit it far enough not to see a white one, but some guys it might help them. It's interesting, though, you really do see the ball a lot better."

5:03 Westwood holes out from the bunker to square his match with Watney. Did I predict four, maybe five Americans would get through to the third round? Um, I may have to revise that down.

5 Well, it turns out Els remains only 1-up over Goosen after he misses shorty and Goosen makes. Charl Schwartzel eliminates Furyk 3&2. Another American and another top seed bites the dust. Garcia dispatches A. Hansen 2&1 after being three down thru five. All together now: Here comes Sergio Garcia! Golf could use a big year from him, as well as Els and Mickelson. 

4:54 Karlsson drains long putt to stay alive on 13. Would be a comeback for the ages. Els about to go 2-up on Goosen. Cink nukes tee shot to reach par-4 15th and give himself shot at eagle. I'm seeing a lot of right-to-left from usual fader Stewart the last few days.

4:49 Here's what I think of Casey: He's the English version of Ogilvy. When he's on, as he was at the 2006 Ryder Cup, Casey has star written all over him. The problem is it comes and it goes, much the way it seems to with Ogilvy. Granted, no one is likely to match the consistency of Woods, but there's a lot of middle ground between the hot-and-cold Casey/Ogilvy and Tiger's freakish reliability (on the golf course, anyway). 

4:48 Kevin writes: "Regarding Paul Casey, Peter Kostis (his coach) has been saying for a while now that he's really close to cracking through. We saw some evidence last year, but his putting needs to improve if he will contend in the majors - particularly the annual april putting contest held down in Georgia. His 121st in putting stat from 2009 shouldn't hinder him at St. Andrews though."

4:45 So long, Geoff Ogilvy, sent packing by Camilo Villegas. And Golf Channel now reports that Ogilvy just turned down their request for an interview, and he looks angry. Maybe Camilo should be the angry one, with all the on-air comment about his hair. On second thought he probably loves it. In any case, like Ron says, Paul Casey is now officially the man to beat. Or Cink, if he squeaks past O'Hair.

4:40 For the second straight day, Cink is mounting a big back-nine charge. He's just birdied two holes to square his match with O'Hair through 13 holes. Think back to last year's Accenture, when he finished third, or the Ryder Cup when he absolutely annihilated Sergio Garcia, or his epic sudden-death playoff with Woods at Firestone--some of Cink's best golf has been in match play situations.

4:33 Anybody have Thongchai Jaidee making it past his first two matches? The man is 4-up on Swedish Skyscraper Robert Karlsson, who just won on the Euro tour. This tournament is darn near impossible to predict. And Clark flips his yellow golf ball to the crowd after making it official over Kaymer. The only remaining boy genius is Ishikawa, 1-up over Stricker-killer McGowan.

4:28 Okay, Tim Clark just went 3-up on Kaymer with three to play. Call that one over. So much for my prediction that Kaymer would make a big comeback. J.M. Singh eliminates Kuchar; another American bites the dust. Good for Singh. Nice guy, and he has one of only two fulltime female caddies in the game, along with Stenson's (Fanny Sunneson). 

4:25 Ron says, "Paul Casey is the man to beat." That could be even more true in a few minutes, as Villegas just holed a putt to go 2-up over Ogilvy with two holes to play. The defending champion and match play savant is on the ropes!

4:20 Pesky, never-say-die Furyk mounting a comeback against Schwartzel, got it to all square. Pesky, never-say-die Poulter moves on to the third round, dispatching Scott.

4:18 Gay closes out Johnson, who may have been a bit rusty after taking the last four weeks off; Crane closes out Yang 3&2. Be honest: Did anybody have Gay getting this far? Two years ago he was winning the Mayacoba Classic. Speaking of which, Joe Durant fired a 65 to take a one-shot lead over three players down in Mexico. Daly shot 3-under; Duval even through 10.   

4:12 Villegas just comfortably drove the 333-yard par-4 15th hole, leaving himself about 20 feet for eagle, which would presumably put him 1-up over Ogilvy. Hey, Kelly and Nick, anyone still believe Villegas lost his strength by cutting his hair?  

4:10 Poulter has Scott by two with two to play; Crane has Yang by three with three to play. I'm considering those matches over. Faldo has to be loving all the Brits marching into the Sweet 16: Casey, Donald, Wilson, probably Poulter, maybe Westwood and McGowan. Yesterday's giant-killer McGowan is all square with superkid Ishikawa through 10. 

4:05 Golf Channel wags noting that the greens have been redone, which is becoming quite common for Nicklaus designs. Garcia sandy puts him 1-up over Anders Hansen, who is vying with Ross McGowan for most likely to need a name tag in the media room. Crane showing some nerves there, leaving putt six feet short as he tries to close out Yang.

4 pm Penny writes to say, "thank you for talking about the matches and not what's his name." Penny, I can only assume you mean new LPGA commish Michael Whan, who's received plenty of pub already. I shant be blogging about him. BTW, Sergio Garcia is turning into David Duval with those glasses. 

3:50 pm Nick Watney, 1-up on Westwood through seven holes, leads the Americans still alive. Crane now 3-up on Yang thru 13, and Kuchar, with second straight birdie, now just 1-down to Singh. Furyk 2-down to Schwartzel with eight holes left, and O'Hair 2-up on Cink thru 10. Also, Gay 1-up on Johnson with two holes remaining. So we'll likely have at least four Americans left after today.

3:47 pm Oliver Wilson knocks out Rory Mac, who joins Sim, Dustin Johnson and possibly Kaymer among the prodigies to make an early exit. Wilson now must play Donald in battle of the Brits.  

3:36 pm Goosen chips in to square match with Els. Speaking of the two South Africans, we still have the possibility of a 36-hole final between Walker and Ryder Cup teammates Casey and Donald of England, and Presidents Cup teammates and friends Ogilvy and Scott of Australia. Villegas just blistered a 5-iron to tap-in distance for eagle and likely 1-up lead over defending champ Ogilvy.

3:33 pm Titleist is now enlisting everyday duffers to promote the Pro V1 ball. Good idea? Not sure I care about what "Bernhard" is playing with, unless it's Langer.

3:30 pm And here comes Matt Kuchar, making putt to go only 2-down with four to play in match with J.M. Singh. Tiny terror Tim Clark now 2-up over top seed Kaymer.

3:26 pm Oliver Wilson taking a page out of the Crane/J.B. Holmes/Harrington playbook, examining every blade of grass on the green before his 18-foot birdie try on 19th hole. Still missed. Rory Mac left with 12-footer for the win; misses. On to the 20th hole. 

3:26 pm What is it about playing Ogilvy that causes people to miss putts? Tour pros get up and down 80% of the time from where Villegas just was; he didn't. Still all square.

3:22 pm Crane's got a lot more personality than people think. He did a great impression of his good-old-boy agent after he won the Farmers, got big laughs. Scott nearly pitches in for eagle, but Poulter drains eight-footer to get the halve. Poulty is tough. Still 1-up.

3:18 pm Are they allowing fans at the Accenture, or is it restricted like Tiger's non-press conference? Looks like plenty of good seats available.

3:15 pm Rory makes clutch putt to force extra holes with Wilson; J.M. Singh 3 up on Kuchar thru 13. Crane 1 up on Yang. How about Crane playing 17 holes Wednesday by himself? Reminds me of Mark Calcavecchia's comment on playing with the then-quiet Faldo: "Like playing by yourself, only slower."  

3:06 pm Zach Johnson cuts deficit, now only 1-down to Gay with five remaining. Grittiest match play guys left in the field: Zach, Cink, Casey (already through to sweet 16), Ogilvy and Poulter, who just went 1-up over Scott. Ernie drains long putt to go 1-up over Retief, South Africa division.

3:02 pm Ryo Ishikawa, prodigy division, takes 1-up lead over McGowan, no-name division.

3 pm Weir will have to chip in if he wants to keep this thing going. Nope, it's over. Casey, 5&4.

2:59 pm Rory Mac's monumental cut on 18 tee and 300-yard bomb suggests his back is feeling fine. 

2:56 pm Nice to see Adam Scott hanging in there against match play ace Poulter. All square thru 11. 

2:54 pm Wilson just made a four-and-a-half footer to halve 17 with Rory. What nerves?

2:53 pm If they ever move the Masters to Tucson in February, Geoff Ogilvy's got it made. Guy hits it so high he just easily stopped a 5-iron on the green. 

2:52 pm Oops, Weir wasn't dormie. Now he's dormie, five down to Casey with five to play. 

2:50 pm Jeev Milkha-Singh and Geoff Ogilvy: Proof that having a newborn around the house doesn't have to wreck your golf game.

2:47 pm Golf Channel update! Michelle Wie already six back after first round of LPGA lid-lifter. Not what the new commish was probably hoping for.

2:43 pm Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer both in an early hole, but I look for both to work their way out of it. Cink's comeback Wednesday was truly exceptional. 

2:36 pm Christian writes: "I think recent form has at least something to do with it. Luke Donald has been playing well recently as well." I guess that's true, but he's been playing under-the-radar well. His wrist injury last year seemed to take a lot out of him, and he's generally been something of an enigma.

2:36 pm Zach Johnson in early hole to fellow bunter Brian Gay. What are the odds that both would make the second round on this monstrously long course? 

2:26 pm Mike Weir wandering around the desert looking for his ball. Been there, brother.

2:35 pm Golf Channel announcers seem to think Wilson is on the verge of folding. Match with Rory Mac just went to all square with three to go.  

2:33 pm Ben Crane looks like a miniature Stewart Cink; Oliver Wilson is slightly Harringtonian. 

2:29 pm I spoke to Craig Stadler the other day, and asked him if he could help explain Geoff Ogilvy's gaudy record in this thing. "I have no idea," Stads said. "Why did Jim Thorpe win the old Seiko Match Play two years in a row?" Perhaps it's because Ogilvy is so cerebral? He seems to have figured it out. 

2:25 pm How much does recent form play into this thing? After Stricker, Johnson and now Allenby early exits, I'm thinking not much.

2:23 pm Like Weir on Wednesday, Donald is showing the value of a hot putter. Bye, bye, Allenby, thanks for coming.

2:20 pm Camilo Villegas, playing tourney fave Geoff Ogilvy, needs a big year after a nothing 2009. A W over Mr. Match Play would be a great start. About to be all square through eight.

2:16 pm Accenture has replaced Tiger Woods with animatronic fish and animals.

2:15 pm Y.E. Yang drains putt in tight tilt with Ben Crane. Now there's a match we didn't expect to be watching a year ago.

2:14 pm Oliver Wilson, 2 up on Rory Mac, is reminding me of Charles Barkley with that pre-shot routine.

2:11 pm Luke Donald dominating Robert Allenby. Be honest: Did you see that one coming?

2:08 pm I'm not entirely sure I could identify Ross McGowan in a crowd, but he may be the only Tour pro who actually likes Tiger at the moment. Interesting to observe the backlash in Arizona. Has Tiger lost his last constituency, the guys to whom he's meant literally millions of dollars?

2:02 pm Greetings, fellow golf fans. Oy, Mike Weir needed to bank some of those nine birdies he made Wednesday. Paul Casey's already got him dormie; Casey 4-up with four to go.

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