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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 21, 2010

Poulter waiting for winner of Casey, Villegas in final

 •  Wie ties for 22nd in LPGA's Thailand


Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Camilo Villegas had a frustrating semifinal match against Paul Casey, which was suspended by darkness after 23 holes in the Match Play Championship.

NAM Y. HUH | Associated Press

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MARANA, Ariz. Ian Poulter equaled the shortest match of the tournament to reach the final of the Match Play Championship. He won't know who he plays until today because the longest match didn't finish.

Paul Casey and Camilo Villegas, neither of whom had gone the distance all week at Dove Mountain, exchanged a series of great shots and clutch putts through 23 holes yesterday until twilight in the high desert made it too difficult to continue.

They were to return first thing this morning to see who gets to face Poulter and a chance at the $1.4 million prize.

The final stroke of a long day belonged to Villegas, a 28-year-old Colombian, who had a 3-foot par putt on the 14th hole to win the match. He pushed it badly to the right, giving Casey an unlikely reprieve.

"I should have made that putt," Villegas said.

On the previous hole, Villegas hit a remarkable bunker shot from 50 yards that stopped 2 feet from the hole for a conceded birdie, only for Casey to knock in a 6-foot birdie to extend the match.

Villegas also escaped trouble on the par-5 11th when he blasted out of a desert bush, hammered a fairway metal onto the green and halved the hole with a par.

"If I had to get up early, I wanted to be in the final. I didn't want to be continuing a semifinal," said Casey, who reached the championship match last year only to lose to Geoff Ogilvy. "One of us has to be in the final. And both of us want to be there."

Some three hours earlier, Poulter closed out Sergio Garcia on the 12th hole, 7 and 6.

Poulter was in his room at the Ritz-Carlton, waiting to find out his opponent before taking a hot bath.

Both players were exhausted, especially having endured quarterfinal matches yesterday morning, then coping with a few hours of wretched conditions cold, wind and rain that briefly halted play.

It was only the second time in the 12-year history of this tournament that a semifinal match went into overtime. The other time was in 2004, when Davis Love III defeated Darren Clarke.

Casey is trying to give this World Golf Championship its first All-England final.

Earlier in the day, Casey built an early lead and defeated British Open champion Stewart Cink, 5 and 4. It was the fourth time in as many matches that Casey had closed out his opponent by that score.

Cink's loss meant no Americans reached the semifinals for the first time in tournament history.

Poulter had a far more difficult time reaching the semifinals.

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, the No. 48 seed, had never trailed in 59 holes until Poulter won the 17th hole with a par to go 1 up. Poulter won on the 18th when Thongchai's 15-foot birdie hung on the lip.

In the other quarterfinal matches, Garcia pulled away late over Oliver Wilson of England, 4 and 3; and Villegas built a 4-up lead at the turn and beat Retief Goosen, 4 and 3.

MAYAKOBA GOLF CLASSIC

DURANT LEADS BY TWO

Joe Durant remained in position for his first PGA Tour victory since 2006, birdieing the final two holes yesterday for a 2-under 69 and a two-stroke lead in the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

The 45-year-old Durant, a four-time tour winner, had a 14-under 199 total on the Mayakoba Resort's El Camaleon course. He opened with rounds of 64 and 66.

"It always helps just having been in this position a number of times and knowing the kind of round you need to play on Sunday to win a golf tournament," Durant said. "At least you know in your mind what you need to do. Whether you do it or not, who knows. Experience always helps."

Charles Warren (65) and J.P. Hayes (69) were tied for second at 201, Chad Collins (67) and Cameron Beckman (69) followed at 11-under 202, and Kevin Stadler (67) was 10 under 203.

Hawai'i's Dean Wilson, a Castle High alum, shot a 70 and was tied for 29th at 208.

ALLIANZ CHAMPIONSHIP

SIMPSON, ARMOUR III TIED

If anybody could use a victory at the Allianz Championship this weekend, it would be Tim Simpson.

Simpson, who had brain surgery nearly five years ago to alleviate a hereditary tremor in his left hand, shot 7-under 65 and was tied with Tommy Armour III for the lead at 13 under 131 after the second round of the Champions Tour event yesterday at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, Fla.

After posting his sixth birdie of the day on the 17th to reach 11 under, Simpson eagled the par-5 18th to move into a tie with Armour, moving him closer to a big payday that would help defray the costs of mounting medical bills.

Two months ago, Simpson had to have out-patient surgery to install a new battery in the neurostimulator that connects to an electrode in his brain to help alleviate the shaking.

"To change a battery is $53,000 and climbing," Simpson said.

Winning the Allianz Championship sure would help with that. The champion takes home a $255,500 paycheck.

Armour put together a stretch of five straight birdies on the back side to finish with an 8-under 64.

Bernhard Langer shot 65 and John Cook shot 66 and were a stroke back. Nick Price (65), Joey Sindelar (65), Loren Roberts (67) and Tom Lehman (67) were at 133.