Lee Westwood had every reason to pack light for the Match Play Championship. He never made it out of the second round in his 11 previous trips to this tournament, and he never could understand why.
Now it seems as if Westwood can do no wrong.
He birdied the opening two holes and pulled away when Nick Watney missed too many short putts yesterday at the Dove Mountain course in Marana, Ariz. He advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-and-2 win. Watney had eliminated Westwood from tournament the last two years.
Rory McIlroy advanced with a 3-and-1 win over Miguel Angel Jimenez. If they win their matches today, McIlroy and Westwood would meet in the semifinals tomorrow morning.
Westwood has led after 48 of the 49 holes he has played through three rounds, barely breaking a sweat under the blazing sun in the high desert.
“You want to come out and get momentum as quickly as possible,’’ said Westwood, who birdied the opening two holes for the second straight match. “And the only way to do that is by winning holes.’’
Now, Westwood is two matches away from a shot at his first World Golf Championship, and a return to No. 1 in the world.
But he’s not alone.
McIlroy also can go to No. 1 in the world for the first time in his young career by winning tournament. The battle for No. 1 - made possible by Luke Donald losing in the opening round - put some interest into an otherwise dull afternoon.
PGA - Daniel Summerhays birdied the final hole for a 6-under-par 65 and a share of the second-round lead with Will Claxton and Greg Owen in the wind-swept Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Claxton, the first-round leader, shot a 68, and Owen had his second straight 67 to match Summerhays at 8-under 134 on the El Camaleon course.
Summerhays had seven birdies and a bogey. The 28-year-old former BYU player made only eight cuts in 29 PGA Tour starts last season.
LPGA - Katie Futcher and Jenny Shin shot 5-under 67s in the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore to join first-round leader Angela Stanford at the top of the leaderboard.
Futcher and Shin both had six birdies and one bogey to reach 8-under 136 and tie Stanford, who had a 70, on a day temperatures reached the low 90s.