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Kaymer & Watson through to last eight

U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell was the biggest name to fall by the wayside in Friday’s third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, losing 3&2 to South Korean Yang Yong-eun.

Yang took early control against the fifth-seeded Briton with three birdies in the first four holes and held off a late fightback before ending the match with a chip-in for birdie at the par-three 16th.

“He was a tough man to beat today and to be brutally honest, I was frustrated with my game all week,” McDowell told reporters after a sun-baked afternoon at Dove Mountain’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. “I hit a lot of average shots for me.”

However, the Northern Irishman was able to celebrate reaching the third round for the first time in five appearances and will move past Tiger Woods in next week’s world rankings.

“A lot of positives to take away from the week,” world number four McDowell said. “It was my best ever performance in this tournament. Not saying much for me, but I really enjoyed the week.”

Yang, who overhauled Woods to claim his first major title at the 2009 PGA Championship, will next meet Matt Kuchar, who beat fellow American Rickie Fowler 2&1.

“It feels great to win over Graeme,” said Yang. “I think my overall condition is good, and just because I won today, my condition feels better.”

McDowell’s exit left the elite event with only one of the top five seeds, top-ranked Lee Westwood and fourth seed Phil Mickelson having been eliminated in Thursday’s second round.

Third-seeded Woods, a three-times winner of the Match Play, made a premature departure at the first hurdle on Wednesday.

German world number two Martin Kaymer, the second seed, came from two down after 12 holes to beat American Hunter Mahan 2&1 in a high-quality encounter on Friday.

Mahan never trailed until his opponent coolly sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-three 16th to go one up. The American then lost the match with a double-bogey at the 17th after his approach overshot the green.

“The tee shot on 16 was probably the key shot of the match,” said Kaymer, who would take over from Westwood at the top of the rankings if he reaches Sunday’s final.

“It was 250 yards, a little bit into the wind, and I hit a great three-iron to about 10 feet. Those shots, making it in those situations, they make me feel very proud.

“It was a fantastic match. It was all about birdies and not making bogeys and giving holes away. He played good golf … it was a difficult day.”

Long-hitting American Bubba Watson became the first player to reach the quarter-finals at Dove Mountain, crushing twice champion Geoff Ogilvy of Australia 6&4.

“I hit a lot of good putts, a lot of good iron shots,” left-hander Watson said after booking a place in the last eight against compatriot J.B. Holmes, who beat Australian Jason Day one up.

“I haven’t missed that many fairways, probably no more than five all three days. So it’s been good so far, and I’ve won every time.”

British world number nine Luke Donald ended the fairytale run by teenager Matteo Manassero, beating the Italian 3&2, while pony-tailed Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez hammered American Ben Crane 7&6.

Donald will next meet American Ryan Moore, who scraped past compatriot Nick Watney after 19 holes, while the 47-year-old Jimenez takes on Kaymer.

With severe weather forecast for the weekend, the semi-finals have been brought forward to follow the quarters on Saturday. The 18-hole championship final is scheduled for Sunday.

Scores

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