MARANA, Ariz. — Jordan Spieth continued his stellar play, while Graeme McDowell escaped once again as both won their third-round matches at the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday.
Spieth earned a hard-fought 2 &1 win over 2013 champion Matt Kuchar, while McDowell rallied to beat 2012 winner Hunter Mahan in 21 holes. McDowell has come back from deficits in each of his first three matches.
Spieth, the third seed in the Gary Player bracket, moves on to face eight- seeded Ernie Els. The South African held on to beat Jason Dufner, 1-up, on Friday.
McDowell, who is seeded fourth in the Sam Snead bracket, will battle seventh- seeded Victor Dubuisson in the quarters. Dubuisson never trailed as he beat Bubba Watson, 1-up, at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.
Jason Day, the two seed in the Bobby Jones bracket, is the highest remaining seed. Day never trailed en route to beating George Coetzee, 3 &1.
Day will battle eighth-seeded Louis Oosthuizen. The former British Open champion ran away from Webb Simpson with six wins in an eight-hole span to walk off with a 5 &4 win.
In the Ben Hogan bracket, fifth-seeded Jim Furyk and 14th-seeded Rickie Fowler both earned 1-up wins. Furyk rallied from a 3-down deficit to beat Harris English. Fowler never led against Sergio Garcia until making birdie at the 18th to win 1-up.
Kuchar made a 15-footer for eagle at the second, but Spieth birdied three and four. Kuchar squared the match with a par on the fifth, but Spieth took the sixth to regain a 1-up lead.
Spieth pushed his advantage to 3-up with wins at nine and 10. Kuchar took the 11th and got up and down for par on No. 12 to get within 1-down. After four halves in a row, Spieth buried a 12-foot birdie try at 17 to seal the match.
“I was out of play on 11 and plugged it in a bunker of 12, so I kind of gave him two to get back in it, and you don’t want to do that with him because he can take advantage of it,” Spieth said of Kuchar.
Dufner and Els split the front nine, as each won three holes and the other three were halved. Els finally took control when he was conceded the 10th and won No. 12 with a par.
“It’s entertaining for sure, but I’d rather have it much easier,” McDowell joked. “I can’t get my head around it. I was sure I was beat against Gary Woodland (in the first round). Yesterday, I felt I had a chance and today, walking off 16, I thought I was beat again. The par save on that second playoff hole was ridiculous. I just robbed three players at this tournament and I can’t believe I’m still in it.”