ASH, England – Top-seeded Henrik Stenson defeated Thongchai Jaidee 2 and 1 to reach the quarterfinals undefeated after the opening three rounds of the World Match Play Championship.
Stenson sealed the win when his wedge shot into the 17th green spun back into the hole for birdie on the London Club course. He finished with an eagle and six birdies on the final day of round-robin play and will play fellow Swede Jonas Blixt in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Thongchai, last year’s runner-up, was eliminated.
American Ryder Cup player Patrick Reed also advanced after beating Jamie Donaldson 3 and 2, and will play Geroge Coetzee of South Africa.
In the other quarterfinals, Victor Dubuisson of France faces Mikko Ilonen of Finland and Joost Luiten of the Netherlands takes on Pablo Larrazabal of Spain.
Stenson was 3 up with four holes to go but three-putted on the 15th and then watched as Thongchai chipped in for birdie on the next. However, the Swede responded with an even more spectacular birdie on the next.
“It was getting a little bit more interesting and while I didn’t hit the best approach with my second into 17, I thought if I could get my lob-wedge to spin back it might be close. But then it was a bonus and quite spectacular when it went into the hole,” Stenson said.
Luiten also finished undefeated in round-robin play after eliminating defending champion Graeme McDowell with a 2 up victory.
Luiten, was overlooked for European Ryder Cup selection in favor of Lee Westwood, had been 3 down to McDowell after eight holes before going ahead for a first time with a birdie at 17 and then also managing to birdie the last.
“It is always hard when you are 3 down after eight holes but I had plenty more holes and I managed to get back on my game and hit some good shots,” Luiten said.
Reed, who was undefeated in the recent Ryder Cup, was 2 up after just four holes and then moved to 4 up with a birdie at 12.
“It feels good to win as today I made a lot of clutch and solid putts,” he said. “This is one of those events I’ve always wanted to play. I watched it last year on TV back home. Justine, my wife, goes, `I think we need to play there next year or whenever we get a chance.’ And luckily we got an invite this year and I couldn’t pass it up.”
Dubuisson lost Friday’s match to Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher 2 and 1, but advanced after two previous victories.
Larrazabal eliminated Ireland’s Shane Lowry by the same margin.
Blixt defeated England’s Paul Casey in a playoff after their match ended all square. Italy’s Francesco Molinari won his first match in defeating Coetzee 2 and 1, but the South African still finished second in his group behind Stenson.