— England’s Richard Finch delivered the first big upset at the Volvo World Match-Play Championship Friday as he knocked out former PGA Champion Martin Kaymer of Germany.
The world No. 9 Kaymer missed a three-foot par putt at the final hole on the Finca Cortesin to hand a place in the last 16 of the 2,750,000 euro ($3.5m) event to the 218th ranked Englishman.
Finch, who is now guaranteed at least $89,000 even if he loses at the start of Saturday’s knockout stage, only qualified for the event in finishing third in the recent China Open.
As both the first and second-place finisher in China had already qualified, the former Irish Open winner Finch was handed a place in the Spanish field.
Finch will now play former US Open champion Graeme McDowell after he accounted for South African Jbe Kruger 4 & 3.
“This is a pleasant surprise as I didn’t expect to beat Martin,” said Finch.
Defending champion Ian Poulter, 36 cruised into the last 16 with a similar 4 & 3 victory against fellow Englishman Tom Lewis.
However, Poulter had already qualified for the weekend after Lewis had beaten Australia’s John Senden earlier in the day.
It meant Senden, with two loses, was out of the event leaving Poulter and also Lewis to go through no matter the outcome of their afternoon encounter.
“In terms of adrenalin and being 100% switched on, I don’t think either of us were 100% switched on,” said Poulter.
Poulter will now face Alvaro Quiros with the Spaniard easily accounting for Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka 4 & 2.
And Poulter remains on target to join some of the greats of the game including the late Seve Ballesteros in successfully defending the Volvo World Match-Play Championship.
Ballesteros won the event back-to-back in 1981 and 1982 as well as 1984 and 1985. Other players to have successfully held onto the prestigious title include Gary Player (1965 & 1964), Hale Irwin (1974 and 1975) and Ernie Els, who captured the event three years running on two separate occasions (1994-96 & 2002-04).
In other matches England’s Justin Rose also had no trouble in defeating British Open Champion Darren Clarke 6 & 4.
Rose got off to a flying start to win the first two holes as he seeks to qualify automatically for the European team for the Ryder Cup later this year.
Rose will now tackle Nicolas Colsaerts after the Belgian defeated 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel in a playoff. American Brandt Snedeker defeated South African Branden Grace and will play Colombia’s Camilo Villegas.
In other matches Saturday morning Spain’s Sergio Garcia plays Lewis, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson plays Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and South African Retief Goosen, who won both of his matches, meets England’s Robert Rock. — AP