McDowell and Lawrie advance as Volvo Match Play down to final four

Graeme McDowell at the Volvo Match Play Championship
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Graeme McDowell defeated Richard Finch and Sergio Garcia in his two matches on Saturday at the Volvo World Match Play Championship.
By news services

Series: European Tour

Published: Saturday, May 19, 2012 | 2:19 p.m.

CASARES, Spain -- Graeme McDowell held his nerve in a tense playoff against local favorite Sergio Garcia on Saturday to advance through the quarterfinals of the Volvo World Match Play Championship.
McDowell made his par putt on the first extra hole from 5 feet but Garcia's putt slid by the cup from even closer in.
''We are in Spain and it wasn't exactly 'el clasico' but I got the job done,'' said McDowell, who holed the winning putt for Europe at the Ryder Cup in 2010.
McDowell will play another Spaniard in the Sunday morning semifinals after Rafael Cabrera-Bello rallied from 3 down to win 3 and 1 against compatriot Alvaro Quiros, who had earlier ended reigning champion Ian Poulter's eight-match unbeaten run in the event.
The other semifinal features Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts against Scotland's Paul Lawrie after both eased to victories. The winners of those two matches will square off Sunday afternoon in an 18-hole final.
Colsaerts, a semifinalist here last year and whose big-hitting game appears ideally suited to the long, hilly Finca Cortesin course in southern Spain, beat Brandt Snedeker of the United States 4 and 3.
Lawrie thrashed Retief Goosen 6 and 5 in their quarterfinal as he bids to mark his 500th appearance in a European Tour event with his eighth tournament victory.
McDowell beat Richard Finch -- the conqueror of top seed Martin Kaymer in the group stage -- 3 and 2 in the last 16 earlier Saturday and lost a great chance to clinch his match against Garcia in regulation.
The Northern Irishman, who won the U.S. Open in 2010, missed a putt from five feet on No. 18 to lose the hole and take the match to a playoff.
Garcia slipped when taking his second shot on the 19th hole, his ball squirming along the fairway and landing beside the same bunker McDowell found himself in from his second.

Garcia was closer with the approach, but he managed to three-putt from 15 feet whereas McDowell needed only two from the length of the green.

Two weeks after a wretched performance in front of Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal, Scotland's Lawrie is now poised for another mighty leap toward a second Ryder Cup appearance 13 years after his first one. Lawrie has the chance to move to second in the points race his following thumping wins over Thomas Bjorn and Goosen on Saturday.

First he beat Bjorn 5&4 -- the Dane's five bogeys in the first eight holes certainly helped -- and then after lunch he did not drop a stroke in crushing two-time U.S. Open champion Goosen 6&5 in the blustery conditions.

"You can't really ask for more than that," Lawrie said. "The wind really picked up and under par you are going to be tough to beat."

On the Ryder Cup situation, Lawrie added: "I'm not thinking about that, even if I win this week. If things go well then obviously it's a step closer, but that's all it is. There's a lot of tournaments to be played."

One of the big ones is next month's U.S. Open, but Lawrie has chosen not to make the trip to San Francisco and remains happy with that decision. The Ryder Cup is his main priority and he has a poor record in the US Open.

"They way I've done my schedule is the best for me," he said.

What Lawrie hopes, of course, is that he doesn’t have to fall back on Olazabal giving him a wild card, and as he missed the cut alongside Olazabal two weeks ago in Seville he said to the Spanish star: "I guess that's me knackered for a pick."

Olazabal's reaction?

Lawrie said: "He just laughed."

McDowell breathed a huge of relief. He was comfortable enough against Finch in the morning, but then had to go into extra holes against Garcia when he missed a five-footer for the match on the last. The Spanish star was favorite when they returned to the same hole, but charged a 15-foot putt for victory four feet past and missed it after McDowell had holed from five.

"I kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was going home, but sometimes you have to win ugly and sometimes to win you need what just happened to me. I count myself lucky," said McDowell

The quarterfinals was an England-free zone after its five-strong contingent was wiped out in the morning.

Poulter was beaten 4&3 by Quiros and refused to blame the defeat on the second-day incident when a buggy went over his foot.

"Hot bath, bag of ice for the ankle as the cart lady decided to crush it with her front wheel," he had posted on Twitter, but before heading off to catch a flight, he said: "I don't need excuses. I had plenty of chances and didn't take them -- simple. I just didn't play good enough."

Second seed Justin Rose had crushed Robert Rock 7&6 and British Open champion Darren Clarke 6&4 to win his group, but had no complaints about his 4&3 loss to Colsaerts.

"I actually boxed a good fight, but I ended up in the cuts room getting stitched up -- Nicolas was seven under through 15 holes," he said. "I hit a drive out of my boots on 14 (353 yards), knocked it on the dance floor (green) as he did, and he rolled his in for eagle.

"I'm 15 under for three rounds and going home. Unfortunately that's the way the tournament is."

McDowell's day had started with a 3&2 victory over Finch, the 218th-ranked outsider who had knocked out top seed and world No. 9 Martin Kaymer in his previous game.

"Richard Finch might not jump off the page as one of the top names at the tournament, but they are all quality players," said McDowell. "They're all capable of shooting low numbers, but I feel I'm playing well and getting the hang of this course."

The other Englishmen to lose were Rock, beaten 3&2 by Goosen, and 21-year-old Tom Lewis, who went down 4&3 to Garcia.

Sunday morning semifinals:
Paul Lawrie vs. Nicolas Colsaerts
Graeme McDowell vs. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

Saturday morning results:
Sergio Garcia def. Tom Lewis, 4 & 3
Paul Lawrie def. Thomas Bjorn, 5 & 4
Graeme McDowell def. Richard Finch, 3 & 2
Retief Goosen def. Robert Rock, 3 & 2
Brandt Snedeker def. Camilo Villegas, 3 & 2
Nicolas Colsaerts def. Justin Rose, 4 & 3
Alvaro Quiros def. Ian Poulter, 4 & 3
Rafael Cabrera Bello def. Robert Karlsson, 1 hole

Saturday afternoon results:
Paul Lawrie def. Retief Goosen, 6 & 5
Nicolas Colsaerts def. Brandt Snedeker, 4 & 3
Graeme McDowell def. Sergio Garcia, 19 holes
Rafael Cabrera-Bello def. Alvaro Quiros, 3 & 1