Crane cuts down McIlroy
Rory McIlroy suffered an 8&7 hammering in Arizona at the hands of Ben Crane, while Rickie Fowler dumped out Phil Mickelson 6&5.
By Paul Higham On Twitter:@SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 25/02/11 12:12am
Rory McIlroy was sent crashing out of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship after an 8&7 hammering at the hands of Ben Crane, while Rickie Fowler also produced a huge upset with a 6&5 success against Phil Mickelson.
Fowler produced some stunning golf to see off his friend and Ryder Cup team-mate, with a purple patch around the turn doing the damage against the left-hander.
With Mickelson suffering his biggest defeat in the tournament by far, it meant Europeans are certain to occupy the world's top three at the end of the week and possibly the top four, with McDowell and Donald both having the chance to tuck in behind Westwood and Kaymer.
American Crane reached the turn in five-under, which was enough to give him a six-hole lead over the young Northern Irishman, and it was to get no better for the 21-year-old.
World number 38 Crane eventually made seven birdies in 11 holes as McIlroy conceded the 11th to suffer the second-worst defeat in the event's 12-year history.
"It was one of the best rounds I've played in my life, I just played fantastic," said Crane. "I just played exceptional and Rory hit a couple of balls in the desert which ended up in conceded holes so the round just went all my way for nine holes.
"I feel like my form is getting better, I feel like I'm improving in all aspects of my game. This is our only opportunity to do this and matchplay is such a different format it's something that we all enjoy. It's just so intense."
Graeme McDowell and Ryder Cup team-mate Ross Fisher swapped holes in a scrappy match, until US Open champion McDowell won the 14th, 15th and 16th to go through 4&2.
"It's always hard playing against a friend to get that killer instinct to get that edge, but you just have to block it out," said McDowell. "It was a funny day, we both played some good golf at times but we also threw each other a few holes.
"It wasn't pretty at times but that's the beauty of this tournament, you don't have to shoot 65 every day to win, you can win ugly and as long as you're left standing you've got a chance to win.
"I'm driving the ball well which is a key around this golf course and I feel good on the greens I've just got to sharpen up the rest of my game but I feel I'm getting better and better."
McDowell will now play YE Yang in the third round after he put out Stewart Cink, who defeated defending champion Ian Poulter on day one, 4&2.
Paul Casey will not be making a third successive appearance in the final, after he went down 4&2 against Australian world number 40 Jason Day.