MARANA, Ariz. — With players like Tiger Wood, Rory McIlroy and Davis High graduate Nick Watney out of the tournament, two of match play’s best players in recent years — Ian Poulter and Hunter Mahan — will meet in one of two semifinals on Sunday at the WGC-Match Play Championships.
Poulter added to his reputation as one tough customer Saturday when he beat Steve Stricker with one big putt after another, raising his record in this fickle format to 19-3-2 over the last four years.
Mahan outlasted U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson in 18 holes, leaving him two wins away from joining Woods as the only repeat winners of this World Golf Championship. Mahan hasn’t lost a match in two years, and even more impressive than his 11 straight wins is that he has gone 151 holes at Dove Mountain without trailing.
Stricker came out of retirement and knocked out Watney on Friday on the 21st hole. It was the first time the former Blue Devil has failed to reach the third round in this tournament, though it wasn’t from a lack of effort. He birdied four of the last six holes to force overtime, scrambled for par from a desert bush on the second extra hole and ended his long day with a bogey to lose.
Also on Saturday, Matt Kuchar had no trouble against Robert Garrigus, building a 4-up lead through 10 holes and hanging on for a 3-and-2 win. Kuchar has made it to the quarterfinals the last three years, and this will be his second time in the semifinals in the last three years. Kuchar faces Jason Day of Australia, who won a tight match against Graeme McDowell in 18 holes.