McIlroy, Westwood to face off in Match Play semis

Mahan, Wilson also advance

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tees off on the 14th hole while playing South Korea's Bae Sang-moon during the Match Play Championship golf tournament, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, in Marana, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy tees off on the 14th hole while playing South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon during the Match Play Championship golf tournament, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, in Marana, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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He had led in 48 of the 49 holes he played through the opening three rounds, and fell behind immediately to Laird. But starting with Laird’s bogey on the sixth, Westwood won four of the next five holes. He holed a 6-foot birdie putt to halve the 13th hole and stay 2 up, then seized command when Laird took three shots to get out of the bunker on the 14th before conceding.

An all-American semifinal is not nearly as surprising as the players in the match.

“I don’t think too many people picked me to win,” Wilson said.

He has a chance to win for the fourth time in 14 months, more than anyone on the U.S. PGA Tour in that time, but gets easily overlooked by his medium-length off the tee. Wilson makes up for that with smart play and great putting, a deadly combination in this format. Even on the par 5s he couldn’t reach at Dove Mountain, he played to the right angles and kept pressure on Hanson.

Mahan escaped the opening round in 19 holes over Zach Johnson before bulling his way through the bracket with birdies. He only needed pars against Kuchar, whose belly putter went cold on him.

Mahan, who won a WGC title at Firestone two years ago, won five holes with pars against Kuchar. He holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the ninth to go 5-up at the turn, then won the next hole when Kuchar again missed from 6 feet for par.

Matt couldn’t find the putter today, which is rare for him, because he’s a great putter,” Mahan said. “I got lucky in that aspect. But I played solid, didn’t make any bogeys and didn’t give many holes — and kept the pressure on him. That was nice to do.”

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