Friday, February 27, 2009

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Down two holes through 12, Rory McIlroy finished with a kick, birdieing four of the last six holes to beat Hunter Mahan 1-up.

"I saved my best for last," McIlroy said. "I dug deep and played my best golf when I needed to, which is very satisfying."

The 19-year-old from Northern Ireland had said it would be a dream to meet Tiger Woods in the third round, but that won't happen. Instead, McIlroy will face Tim Clark, who eliminated Woods on Thursday.

"It's probably a good thing," McIlroy said. "I'll be the first to say if I stood on the first tee with Tiger, I would be intimidated because he has been a hero of mine for the past I don't know how many years.

"It would have been great to play him, but maybe another time," McIlroy said.

LONG AND SHORT OF IT: Stewart Cink needed 23 holes to beat Lee Westwood.

Camilo Villegas has played a total of 26 holes in the first two rounds.

In the longest match of the tourney, Cink was 1-up with two holes to play. But Westwood birdied the 17th, and the players swapped shots until Westwood bogeyed the 23rd hole.

Cink has played 42 holes this week. He needed 19 to eliminate Richard Sterne in the first round.

"I'm tired, but when you're that close in your matches, 1-up and 1-down, you never were more than one hole separated, today or yesterday, the adrenaline's always right there," Cink said. "So you don't really feel tired until after you get back to the hotel, maybe relax a little bit."

While Cink sweated out his victory on a sundrenched afternoon, Villegas had time take a dip in the pool.

One day after closing out Rod Pampling in 12 holes, Villegas beat Miguel Angel Jimenez in 14 holes (5 and 4).

Villegas has led for 24 of 26 holes so far. He'll try to keep rolling against Geoff Ogilvy on Friday.

Asked if he would see the par-3, 247-yard 16th this week, Villegas replied, "Let me tell you something: I just try to focus on each shot and hopefully we can keep winning."

THEY'RE BACK: On a day defending champ Tiger Woods was eliminated, only three players reached the third round for the second straight year - Stewart Cink, Paul Casey and Justin Leonard.

Last year, Cink beat Leonard 4 and 2 in the semifinals before losing the championship match to Woods.

Cink is the only player who has made the third round three years in a row.

ALL-ENGLAND CLUB: Seven Englishmen entered the tournament. Five have reached the third round - Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Ross Fisher, Oliver Wilson and Ian Poulter.

Another Englishman, Lee Westwood, lost to Stewart Cink in 23 holes.

"Obviously, it's great for European golf, and it's great for English golf," said Fisher, who routed American Pat Perez 6 and 5 on Thursday. "We've got some really good youngsters coming through, as well, that aren't here this week. They're playing on the European tour. I think the future is very bright, not only for European golf but for English and British golf."

Wilson's 2-and-1 victory over American Anthony Kim may have seemed like an upset. But it didn't come as a surprise to Wilson, who teamed with Henrik Stenson to beat Kim and Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup.

"(Kim is) a great player, and obviously the Ryder Cup, I think, maybe helped me a little bit, knowing that I already beat him before," said Wilson, who will face Leonard on Friday.

Wilson lost the first hole but fired eight birdies the rest of the way to send Kim packing.

Donald was 2-down with two holes to go but rallied to defeat Vijay Singh in 19 holes, reaching sudden death after Singh bogeyed the 18th.

Donald also needed 19 holes to beat Ben Curtis in the opening round.

"My wife keeps telling me, 'Can't you just win on the 12th or 13th one of these days,' to make it easier on her heart," Donald said. "I was just pleased to take it into extra holes after being two down with two to play, but feel I just snatched this one out of nowhere."

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