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Nedbank Golf Challenge. Jaime Donaldson Leads.

Jaime Donaldson leads the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa.

Jaime Donaldson / Getty Images

Jaimeshot a second round -6 under par 66 at the Gary Player Country Club to lead the tournament at -11 under par, and by three shots from his nearest rival. He said he had nicely but it had been a long day;

“I’ve played very nicely for the first two rounds and hit a lot of good shots so I am happy with the way I am playing. We had to play six holes of the first round and then back out after a 45-minute break for the second, so it’s been a long day.”

He carded one bogey, in a strange way when his shot from a fairway bunker at the par-5 10th hole unfortunately struck the lip of the bunker. and then his club, to cause a penalty. Jaime laid up with his fourth shot, and then managed to get up and down from 150 yards;

“These bizarre things happen and you just have to get on with it, in the end it was a good six!”

Tied in second place are Ryan Moore and Henrik Stenson, both on -8 under par at the half-way stage of the competition.

Defending champion Martin Kaymer and Denmark’s Thomas Björn are a shot further back, at -7 under par, while the eventual first round leader, after the resumption of play, Sergio Garcia slipped back in the second round with a +1 over par 73.  He shares ninth place with Luke Donald and a host of other players at -5 under par.

Before the start of play there was a moments silence for Nelson Mandela. The European Tour and Sunshine Tour announced plans to move up next week’s Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban, to a Wednesday-Saturday schedule in order to play four rounds before the state funeral Sunday, December. 15th.

Nedbank Golf Challenge. Like Lights Up His Dull Year.

Luke Donald lights up his dull year, leading the Nedbank Golf Challenge event at Gary Player Country Club, in a suspended first round in South Africa.

Cool hand Luke off to a flier in stormy Sun City

Luke Donald / Getty Images

Luke was at -5 under par through eleven holes, starting birdie, Eagle, before the violent  thunderstorms brought a premature end to day one at Gary Player Country Club.

Luke said he was feeling good about his game, and is playing with confidence;

“It doesn’t get much better than a three-three start around here, birdie-eagle and all of a sudden you are three under par through two holes. I played solid for those first eleven holes and hit a couple of very nice shots in that time that I was able to take advantage of. I feel good over the ball right now and I am playing with confidence. I took a lot of confidence from winning in Japan. It is a place that I love to go back and a course that I love to play so it was very satisfying to be able to go back there and defend. I had seen good signs in Dubai the week before that and did some good work on my long game with Chuck Cook before I left for Dubai and I really felt the benefit of that. I also have to say that the putting came back in Dubai and Japan. That had been a little off for most of the year so it was very encouraging to get that back and I am feeling good about my game right now.”

Tied in second place at -3 under par are,  Denmark’s Thomas Björn, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, and Zimbabwean Brandon de Jonge. Brandon holed out for an eagle on the ninth hole which catapulted him up the leaderboard just before the suspension of play for the day.

The defending champion, Martin Kaymer is at -2 under par, having completed six holes, while The Race to Dubai champion Henrik Stenson is at -1 under par after seven holes.

Round one play will resume at 07:30 local time on Friday morning, with round two expected to tee off from 10:10.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Peter Perfect Pulls Clear.

Perfect Peter Uihlein pulls clear at the top of the leaderboard in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, on the Old Course at St Andrews.

Peter Uihlein  (Getty Images)

Peter Uihlein / Getty Images

Following on from his -12 under par 60 at Kingsbarns, Peter fired a third round -7 under par 65 on the Old Course at St Andrews, to top the leaderboard at -20 under par, two shots clear of the field. A chip in from 47 yards on the par four 18th hole giving him an Eagle 2, to finish his first ever round on the Old Course at St. Andrews in style.

Peter had this to say about his round, and the amazing chip in at the last;

“It was not quite what I was trying to do but it worked out. I carried it a bit too far but got a bit lucky and it’s pretty sweet, a cool finish and a great way to sign off. I felt I missed quite a few putts coming down the stretch so it makes up for it a little.I don’t know if it gets easier but the more you do it the more comfortable you get. St Andrews is the Home of Golf and the greatest course in the world. Any time you can win at St Andrews would be special. It’s every golfer’s dream to win out here.”

Sharing second place are Joost Luiten, David Howell, Ernie Els, Richard McEvoy, Martin Kaymer and Shane Lowery, all on -18 under par for the tournament.

Joost, -4 under par 68 on the Old Course, has the Ryder Cup on his mind, his playing partner Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley gave him some advice during their round;

“The Ryder Cup is on my mind and Paul said it might be better to focus on The European Tour to try to win a couple more times to qualify for The Ryder Cup.”

David Howell carded a 63 at St Andrews and would love to lift the trophy on Sunday, after seven years without a victory;

“I’m in the mix again and that’s all you can keep doing. Tomorrow might be my day, it might not. But if I keep putting myself in with a chance to win I’m sure some silverware will come my way, and it will be a real thrill when it does.”

Ernie Els, who will compete for the International Team in next week’s Presidents Cup, wants to win the individual title, and is also pleased that he and his father Neels have made the cut in the Pro-Am event.

Ernie shot a 64 at St. Andrews;

“I needed a change, I’ve been in a bit of a rut playing in the FedEx Cup in the States, playing week to week and kind of going brain dead. You don’t know exactly what you’re playing for. To come here and play with my dad, who turned 70 this year, at these beautiful links courses makes a change and that’s what I needed. It would mean a great deal to win this event especially with our close connection with (tournament promoter) Johann Rupert and his family. I’ve come close quite a few times and I feel I need to get my name on that trophy. I’m in a great position but there’s a lot of guys in there. It will be a great shootout tomorrow, depending on the weather. If it’s like this, it will be amazing.”

Richard McEvoy needs a win to climb back into the top 110 in The Race to Dubai, he had a -5 under par 67 at Kingsbarns;

” To be honest I’m thinking about winning at the moment. I’m in a position to go out and try and give it a go and try and win, that’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow. That’s all I’ve been thinking about all week really is trying to get out there and finish as high up as possible, but obviously after day one, it was a key to try and keep making birdies and try and be aggressive like I was the first day. It’s paid off so far, so that’s what I’ll be doing again tomorrow.”

Martin Kaymer loves St Andrews, and also playing with his brother Philip in the Pro-AM, the family affair is completed with his father carrying the bag;

“You tell me if there’s any better or different golf course you want to play under those conditions. Perfect weather, and I played with my brother and we made the cut for tomorrow, my dad is caddying; I don’t know if it gets any better. You have a good day of playing and it’s almost impossible not to enjoy it. It’s a really nice day. A performance like yesterday and today is very nice and helps a lot in the confidence.”

Shane Lowery also had an Eagle 2 today, and equalled the Carnoustie course record of -8 under par 64;

“I didn’t know what the record was but Richard told me in the scorers’ hut afterwards, but any score under par at Carnoustie is usually good so I am delighted with eight under. I knew I needed a good score to have any chance and didn’t think I was going to shoot 64. I didn’t see the eagle go in but my dad was watching and he let me know pretty quickly!”

 Paul Casey also equalled the course record at St Andrews with a 62, but he is still seven shots off the lead on 13 under par.

It is going to be a fantastic shoot-out tomorrow to determine the winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

 

Alstom Open De France. Hansen Leads

Anders Hansen leads the Alstom Open De France with a -5 under par 65 to lead by one shot at the Le Golf National course in Paris.

Anders Hansen   (Getty Images)

Anders Hansen / Getty Images

Anders defied a hand injury and testing conditions at Le Golf National to take a one shot lead after the opening round of the Alstom Open de France. He will undergo surgery in Zurich next week to try and overcome the long-standing hand problem. This course is good enough for the Ryder Cup, in his opinion;

“I’m telling you, it’s a great venue for The Ryder Cup. The course is set up perfect for it. The spectators get such a good view and it’s such a great finish to the round. I think it’s going to be a great venue. It is a tough course,  the greens are pretty firm and it’s tight out there. There’s hardly any wind, and you see the scores aren’t that great. I played actually really solid from tee to green,  I think I only missed two or three greens. I putted quite well, so just sort of all came together. At some stage it seemed a bit easy, but this course gets your attention and next thing you know, you’re making bogeys.”

Of his long-term battle with the hand injury, he is hoping that this surgery will be a quick fix;

I’ve had it for years and years and years,  they are going in three different places and they are going to remove a cyst I have here and clean this up and hopefully there’s a 50/50 chance it’s going to be okay. The other thing is to take the whole bone out and cut it a bit, but that’s a big operation and I would be out for six months, so we are hoping to do that and it’s going to be good enough. It’s just wear and tear from hitting too many golf balls.”

Frenchman Romain Wattel is in second place at -4 under par, he wants to play well in front of the home crowd;

“You are in front of the French crowds, so you want to be good, you want to play great golf and so there is pressure on me. I’m trying to play my best and just focus on the shot I have to play, that’s the only thing I can do.”

Martin Kaymer was part of a nine-strong group on three under par, while defending Champion Marcel Siem sadly signed for a first round of 78.

Euro Tour. BMW International Open. Els Excels

Ernie Els excelled in the BMW International Open at Golfclub München Eichenried, winning by one shot from Thomas Björn.

Ernie Els  (Getty Images)

Ernie Els / Getty Images

Ernie had posted his intentions at the BMW International Open when carded an opening round 63. He finished off the job with three rounds of -3 under par 69, for a winning total of -18 under par.

Ernie said he had enjoyed a wonderful tournament;

” It’s been wonderful, I’ve had a great week in Germany. We’ve got to thank BMW obviously for their 25 years of support, I’ve tried a long time to try and win this golf tournament. Wonderful to have sponsors like that around the world, and especially on The European Tour. There’s a lot of people that are working behind the scenes; the volunteers, the Golf Club of Eichenried.  There’s quite a lot of people getting involved in the golf course. We’ve got to thank all of them, and obviously my play this week has been great. I just felt good this week. I just felt my game was there and lucky enough it was one shot good enough. I really had it going and then I made it tough for myself again. Thomas was playing great, he stumbled on 14, I was watching the kid, I played with him yesterday and he looked like he had a great game, but he stumbled as well on the back nine. It’s great to get my name on this wonderful trophy. Obviously it gives you a lot of confidence. Wire-to-wire you’ve got the pressure, every night you’ve got to sleep on it, guys are chasing you. So this is quite a week for me.”

Thomas Björn was in second place at -17 under par, he also finished second in his last tournament, and is in good form at the moment;

“I played well, got off to the start I needed today and got right there in front. The thing that’s been great this week is the driver, and let me down on the back nine. I fought all the way to the end, and he hit two very classy shots on the last. When you go up against Ernie, you’ve got to take it 18 holes to the end and I didn’t quite do it today. I’m on a good run of form. I wanted to try and get myself in the top 20 in The Race to Dubai and top five for The Open, and I’m keeping closer to that and that’s my goal over the next couple of weeks. The qualifier takes a lot out of you, and I’m going to Ireland on a golf course I won on and I’ll keep carrying on and fighting hard until I win a golf tournament.”

The kid Ernie referred to was Alexander Levy, who finished in third place alone at -16 under par. The Qualifying School graduate from France played exceptionally well.

The home favourite Martin Kaymer, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and Swede Alex Noren all finished tied for fourth spot at -15 under par.

Euro Tour. BMW International Open. 3rd Round Three Way Tie.

The third round ended in a three-way tie in the BMW International Open at the Golfclub München Eichenried course between Ernie Els, Alexander Levy and Alex Noren. All three players finished the day with a tournament total of -15 under par.

Ernie Els   (Getty Images)

Ernie Els / Getty

Ernie has been caught at the top of the leaderboard in the BMW International Open, after a two hours and twenty minutes delay for rain in the third round. Ernie had a trio of three putts, but recovered with three birdies in his last five holes for a -3 under par 69 and to hang on at the top;

“All in all I’ve got to be happy, I was a little out of sorts on the greens on the front nine, I didn’t quite get the pace of the greens. They are a little bit faster for some reason and I kept hitting it past and then didn’t make the returns, but I made a little slight adjustment and played some proper stuff coming in. If it wasn’t for those three three putts I had, I would have had a really good score. I was playing so nicely that I felt I’m trying to pull away from the field, and then the opposite happened, and I made some mistakes. I’m in a good position still, just hanging onto the lead or co leader now, and tomorrow is all to play for.”

Alexander Levy was happy with his score, and to have played with Ernie;

“I played very well, I’m very happy. It was great for me to play with a fantastic player. It’s nice to play with him, very happy, it was unbelievable. It was tough, but I like this position.  I practiced for that and I’m happy to be in this position for tomorrow. I like to play in the top, I prefer this position. I want to be like that all the time. I don’t know what happens tomorrow, but I will go to make the job like today, and play golf on a golf course in good condition and I am happy.”

Alex Noren  started the day three shots adrift of the lead, but made up the deficit with a -6 under par 66 round;

” I hit a lot of good shots and a few bad ones, but you always do. You’ve got to be aggressive, because there are so many guys. The leaderboard is as tight as ever with so many good players. Yeah, I’ve got to be aggressive and maybe more aggressive tomorrow than today. I came off the bogey on 15, and it was a perfect distance for the three wood and I hit it great. Marcel  hit it really close just before me, so I knew it was possible, but then I managed to hole the putt, it was great.”

Tied in fourth spot are Matthew Baldwin and Thomas Bjorn, both just one shot adrift at -14 under par. Home favorites Martin Kaymer and Marcel Siem are close by, in the group of  five players at -12 under par.

The leaderboard is still tightly compacted, with eleven players within three shots of the leaders. It will be a real battle for supremacy tomorrow.

BMW International Open.

An excellent second round from Ernie Els kept him at the top of the leaderboard at the half-way stage of the BMW International Open in Munich.

Ernie Els  (Getty Images)

Ernie Els / Getty

Ernie had a tougher day but managed to grind out a -3 under par second round of 69, which included a double bogey. It was still enough at -12 under par tournament total to keep him in front of everybody else.

Ernie thinks the Golfclub München Eichenried course will play harder over the weekend;

” I’m in a nice position obviously, I think it’s going to play a little tougher over the weekend. It’s getting a little bit firmer but I would like to swing a little better tomorrow, but I’m in a really nice position. I’m quite fortunate to be where I am. I didn’t play as good today as I did yesterday obviously. I fought hard for a score today and satisfied with that. There is so much golf to be played. If you fall out of the lead, if you’re not leading after three rounds, it doesn’t really mean much at all late Sunday. So you just want to stay in the race and keep trying to go forward.”

Tied in second place at -11 under par, just one shot adrift, are Matthew Baldwin and Alexander Levy.

Matthew said for him it is all about self-control;

” Just to stay patient and self talk is a big point for me. I sometimes get down on myself, so stay positive and stay patient. Stay patient and let the chances come and we’ll see what happens.”

Alexander, a Qualifying School graduate, said he was happy, apart from a few shaky tee shots;

” I’m very happy to play this one today, I missed a few shots off the tee but I take a good time on the course and I played very, very well today and I’m very happy. I stayed very patient, because two weeks ago, I played well in Austria, but the second round I missed a few shots and I didn’t play very well the second round, and today I’m very happy to play well today. I take a few experiences, and it’s nice to progress on that and to play like that with the experience. It’s positive, I’ve just got to play my golf and take a lot of good time on the course, and we’ll see what happens.”

Danny Willett, the defending champ and Bernd Weisberger are together in fourth place at -10 under par.

Danny carded a -7  under par 65, which was a pleasant surprise after his battles with a back injury recently;

” It was good, yesterday was a bit hit and miss, a little bit shaky. I haven’t played a lot of tournament golf in the last 14 weeks, so it was a bit rusty, and today hit some proper golf shots again and I played really nicely.It’s good to put yourself in a position. Obviously Ernie has got a round to go and a few other guys at seven, eight under par, so it will be interesting at the end of the day. It is a birdie-fest out here and people make a lot of putts and stuff. If you can just keep hitting it inside 20 feet, 15 feet, you are going to hole your fair share. We had some good numbers, played the par fives pretty nicely, it’s just been pretty good all the way around. First time coming back to a tournament defending champion is always nice, obviously different golf course but still the same atmosphere and it’s BMW’s 25th anniversary, so it’s a nice event this year.”

Bernd was happy to be in contention;

” Obviously I’m happy, I got myself back into contention again and up the leaderboard, so very happy to see that after a couple of hiccups during the round. All in all, I like the way I hit the ball. I like the way I executed my chances when I had them, so pleased with my game overall.”

Behind by just three shots at -6 under par are, Martin Kaymer, and his German compatriot Marcel Siem, Alex Noren, Tommy Fleetwood and Miguel Angel Jiménez.

Missing the cut at -3 under par was Colin Montgomery, Alex Cejka, Tom Lewis, Anders Hansen, just some of the bigger names to fall out.

Euro Tour. BMW International Open. Els Excels

Ernie Els excelled at the BMW International Open in the first round, firing an opening gambit of -9 under par 63.

Ernie Els  (Getty Images)

Ernie Els / Getty Images

After a low-scoring opening round at the BMW International Open in Munich, Ernie Els has a one shot lead over Germany’s favorite, Martin Kaymer.

Ernie said he was really happy to be away from the torture of the U.S. Open at Merion;

” It’s really nice, and just a pleasure to play, not to go through a torture chamber like we did at the US Open, it’s a nice start.“It seems like it’s really a day of scoring today, if you shoot a really low one, it’s nice. It takes the pressure off the rest of the tournament a little bit. Although you’re leading, it doesn’t really mean much until Sunday, but if you get into the race, so to speak, early on in the tournament, it’s nice to be right in the hunt.
Guys will be shooting low this afternoon and tomorrow morning, so I probably won’t be in the lead by the time I tee off. But it’s nice to have got a good round under my belt and can start kind of going for Sunday. I’ve really been working hard at my game. Especially obviously going into the US Open and really around the PGA at Wentworth, I could feel things were coming around a bit. I had a bit of an iffy year up to now, but I really feel that my swing feels good and my body feels good, touch wood. So I can swing the club, properly.”

Martin was  the 2008 winner of this event, and was one of four players to complete the first round in -8 under par 64, joining him on that score were Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, England’s Matthew Baldwin and Swede Alexander Noren.

Martin was also happy to be playing a different course than Merion;

” In general, the last few months, I haven’t had a low round at all, so obviously it’s a little bit of a different golf course that we play this week, so there are lots of chances. It’s a nice start. The expectations were very high, I put a lot of pressure on myself and obviously it’s the only tournament we play in Germany, so very pleased, I’m very happy. I just want to put myself in position. It’s not so much about really trying to win.  I try to put myself in position on Sunday, and then we will see and I think I will have an advantage with the people here and very good support. I had fun today and I had a good group, too, to play with.”

Robert, Matthew and Alex were all bogey free in perfect conditions at Golfclub München Eichenried, to stay one shot clear of the next group of three players at -7 under par. Dustin Johnson was a further shot back at -6 under par, and he was another player who expressed relief at being away from the tough Merion course;

” I drove it well, hit it well. I holed a couple putts but I missed quite a few short ones. Merion was playing really tough, so it’s nice to come here where, this golf course, you’ve still got to play good golf and hit good shots and get it close to the hole. But it’s a lot of fun and there’s a lot of birdies out there, I’m happy with where I’m at right now and I’m looking forward to coming back in the morning and playing better.”

Asides;

The weather here in Wellington was unimaginable last night, winds gusting over 100 mph and torrential rain. The golf course will be closed today, that’s an understatement.

Euro Tour. BMW International Open, Kaymer Comes Home.

Martin Kaymer, a previous winner of the BMW International Open, at Golfclub München Eichenried in 2008, is coming home to play as the home town favorite.

Martin Kaymer  (Getty Images)

Martin Kaymer / Getty Images

Martin said he feels the pressure of being a favorite and sensing the expectations of his countrymen;

” The last few years, we have only BMW as a sponsor for The European Tour in Germany and obviously for me it’s very nice to come home. We don’t really have the chance to sleep in your own bed very often. But also, it’s a little bit more pressure; the expectations from people, the expectations from yourself. You put a little bit more pressure on yourself, but it’s a fine line to find the combination of using the support from the fans and the spectators, and your will, you put it all together and try to get a good result. This week I organized things a little bit differently and I have a little bit more time for myself. Everybody was satisfied with the way things went and now we can focus on golf. I just played the Pro Am, I will practice a little bit later, go home, chill, and hopefully shoot a good round tomorrow.”

The Ryder Cup star endured a testing time at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club last week, finishing tied in 59th place. He said he was happy for his Medinah team-mate Justin Rose to win;

” It’s very tough, when you come from the US Open, if you tell me how my game is, you shot 19 over par, I can’t tell you I’m playing well, it sounds stupid. But I’m not playing bad. It’s just one of those weeks when you come from the US Open, you don’t really know what you’re going to get the next week, so today was fine. I played fairly well and the golf course, I do enjoy it, I had success here. So I’m looking forward to the whole week. It’s a different week than the last few years for me, so I hope I can enjoy it more. US Open, you just try to hold on, pretty much from Thursday morning, until Sunday afternoon, and here is a little bit chasing. I was so happy for him [Justin], because I know how hard he worked the last couple years. We had dinner with his caddie, I think five-six months ago or so, and he was so motivated. He was so motivated and he was so into it, and he wanted almost to win more than a player I thought. And to see Justin, winning a Major, I didn’t know how many years ago it is that an English guy won a Major but it must have been almost 20 years; and now Justin got it done, in combination with his caddie, how much they put into it. I was very, very happy for him. It was nice to see.”

Another player to come over from Merion is American Dustin Johnson, a Ryder Cup opponent of Martin. Dustin is still in recovery mode from his recent back injury, and came through the tough course lay-out at Merion without further miss-hap;

” Obviously coming off the US Open, I struggled a little bit there but feel really good coming into this week. I had a good day today, hit the ball really well. The course is in fantastic shape and it’s playing a little easier than the US Open was. I like coming here, Munich is a great city, people are very friendly. I enjoy hanging out in the city after the golf rounds. Obviously BMW does a great job here with this golf tournament, I’m happy to be here.”

Good Luck to Martin, I know my blogging friend in Germany, Stephan, is looking forward to seeing Martin triumphantly lift high the BMW International Open trophy.

Accenture Match Play Championship, Luke Donald and Justin Rose the Big Losers today.

Both Luke Donald and Justin Rose tumbled out of  the Accenture Match-Play Championship at Dove Mountain today. Luke crashed out & and 6 to Scott Piercy and Justin Rose fell to Nicolas Colsaerts 4 and 2.

Ian Poulter beat Bo Van Pelt 3 and 1 while Matt Kuchar dispatched Sergio Garcia 2 and 1. Louis Oosthuizen, an inform favorite for this competition fell to Robert Garrigus 3 and 2.

Shane Lowery continues his good form, beating Carl Pettersson 6 and 5, while another Irishman Graeme McDowell beat off the challenge of Alex Noren 1 up through twenty holes.

Bubba Watson continues his good form, beating Jim Furyk 1 up through twenty-two holes, a tense and tough struggle. Chucky Three Sticks could not continue where he left off when beating Tiger Woods,he fell to Gonzalo Fedez- Castano 6 and 5.

Martin Kaymer is still  in good shape as he defeated Raphael Cabrera-Bello.

This turning into a very interesting tournament, with so many top players falling over in the early rounds, there are no bookies favorites now, it is anybody’s tournament.

This how the match-ups are for tomorrow;

Match 49 (1st tee)
Match 49: 9:10 a.m. ET (7:10 a.m. local)
ROBERT GARRIGUS (2-0) vs. FREDRIK JACOBSON (4-3)

No player has made more birdies this week than Garrigus, who has 14 in his first two rounds at Dove Mountain. Garrigus has won 12 holes and lost just five. Although the 35-year-old Garrigus hasn’t played in a match play format in 18 years, he likes the challenge. “It’s a fun, fun format for me, especially if I’m rolling it well, and I am.” Jacobson’s opponents have made just two birdies against him.

Match 50 (1st tee)
9:22 a.m. ET (7:22 a.m. local)
NICOLAS COLSAERTS (2-1) vs. MATT KUCHAR (11-3)

Colsaerts will have the distance advantage off the tee; he and Bubba Watson are the only two players averaging more than 300 yards in driving distance this week. “If I’m on, I’m going to give myself a lot of birdie tries,” Colsaerts said. But he and Kuchar each have made an equal number of birdies this week (eight) and Kuchar doesn’t get phased by being outdriven.

Match 53 (1st tee)
9:34 a.m.ET (7:34 a.m. local)
SHANE LOWRY (2-0) vs. GRAEME McDOWELL (5-6)

For the second time this week, G-Mac faces a foe from Ireland, having already beaten Padraig Harrington. And for the second time this week, Lowry faces a foe from Northern Ireland, having upset Rory McIlroy. The two were expected to have dinner together Friday night. “A good craic and be a bit of banter,” Lowry said. McDowell has the experience edge, but he doesn’t think it’ll be a factor against Lowry. “If Rory didn’t intimidate him, I suppose what chance do I have?” McDowell said. The two practiced together earlier this week, with McDowell winning the stakes. “Hopefully I can continue that role tomorrow,” he said.

Match 54 (1st tee)
9:46 a.m. ET (7:46 a.m. local)
BUBBA WATSON (7-3) vs. JASON DAY (5-2)

Watson is the only player ranked in the top 10 in the world who remains in the field. He’s also played more holes than anybody else this week (39). Of those 39 holes, he’s only trailed after one hole. Both players are long off the tee, so Day doesn’t expect to give up much ground in distance. “I’m driving the ball really, really nicely,” he said.

Match 51 (10th tee)
9:10 a.m. ET (7:10 a.m. local)
SCOTT PIERCY (2-0) vs. STEVE STRICKER (14-9)

Piercy is coming off a surprisingly easy 7-and-6 win over top-seeded and world No. 2 Luke Donald. The Accenture Match Play Championship rookie now faces another former champion in Steve Sticker, who was taken to 21 holes by Nick Watney in the second round. Stricker acknowledged that while he wasn’t surprised to see Piercy win, the lop-sided nature of that victory “does catch your attention.” Piercy played his 12 holes on Friday in 7 under, too. “Maybe he used them all up today.”

Match 52 (10th tee)
9:22 a.m. ET (7:22 a.m. local)
TIM CLARK (7-7) vs. IAN POULTER (20-9)

These two players couldn’t be more different — the flashy Poulter and the steady-Eddy Clark. Poulter, who made seven birdies and no bogeys in beating Bo Van Pelt 3 and 1 in the second round, has prospered at Dove Mountain, too, winning in 2010 and reaching the consolation finals five years earlier. Clark, on the other hand, has never advanced past the third round and admits the 7,791-yard course is a challenge for a man who ranks 176th in driving distance. “On a day like today, I just accepted that and went about hitting good wedge shots,” said Clark, who beat Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen 3 and 2, “Sometimes if I can do that maybe I can get under the skin of my opponent.”

Match 55 (10th tee)
9:34 a.m. ET (7:34 a.m. local)
GONZALO FERNANDEZ-CASTANO (2-1) vs. WEBB SIMPSON (2-1)

Both players lost in the first round a year ago as they made their Accenture Match Play Championship debuts. In fact, until Fernandez-Castano, a former Spanish Amateur champ, beat Francesco Molinari 2 up on Friday morning he had never won a match as a pro on the 18th hole. “I’m starting to love (match play) again,” said Fernandez-Castano, who has made fewer bogeys than anyone in the field. Simpson, who has been sick most of the week, has only hit 50 percent of his greens in regulation, including just 10 in 18 holes on Friday, to rank last among the players remaining. He’s an opportunistic putter, though, which has carried him through the week.

March 56 (10th tee)
9:46 a.m. ET (7:46 a.m. local)
MARTIN KAYMER (11-5) vs. HUNTER MAHAN (12-4)

These two know what it takes to win at Dove Mountain. Mahan is the defending champion while Kaymer reached the title tilt in 2011 before losing to Luke Donald. The two have history, too — Kaymer beat Mahan 2 and 1 on the way to his runner-up finish in 2011. “It was a tough, really tight match, and he became a lot better player the last two years,” Kaymer recalled. “I have a lot of respect for him.” Mahan has wielded a hot putter this week taking just 44 rolls over 29 holes. “Confidence is high,” he said. “I know I can play this place well and I know I can beat anybody on any given day.”

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