MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Paul Casey has yet to play the final four holes at Dove Mountain after three days of the Match Play Championship.
That’s because the Englishman has won all three of his matches 5 and 4, the latest over Brian Gay in the third round Friday. Casey lost to Geoff Ogilvy in the final last year and won the European World Match Play Championship in 2006.
“I don’t think there’s any one particular part of my game that’s jumping out that is fantastic right now,” he said. “It’s just all very, very solid.”
Casey, the highest remaining seed at No. 6 and one of three English players still in it, advanced to a Saturday morning quarterfinal against Stewart Cink, the lone surviving American and a semifinalist in 2008 and 2009.
Cink beat South African Charl Schwartzel in 19 holes, rolling in a 29-foot putt on the 16th and an 18-footer on the 18th to avoid elimination.
“To be able to win against a guy like that today was really special,” Cink said, “and especially the way I did it.”
Spain’s Sergio Garcia advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in nine appearances, beating Tim Clark of South Africa 2 and 1. Garcia will play Oliver Wilson, who beat fellow Englishman Luke Donald in 20 holes in a match that exceeded even Cink’s in drama.
Wilson’s approach on No. 18 landed 2 feet from the cup, but Donald rolled in a 50-footer over several slopes to stay alive.
“A bit harsh, I thought,” Wilson said.
Wilson made a nearly-as-difficult putt from 38 feet two holes later, then won the match when Donald missed a 12-footer.
“If I’d have missed (the 38-footer) I think he would have holed that,” Wilson said, “so it needed to get done, and it was nice to get it over with.”
The other two quarterfinal matches have South African Retief Goosen against Colombian Camilo Villegas, and Ian Poulter of England against Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand. Goosen beat Nick Watney 1-up, Villegas defeated Ben Crane 3 and 2, Poulter beat Jeev Milkha Singh 5 and 4, and Jaidee defeated Ryo Ishikawa 5 and 4.
Jaidee, the lowest remaining seed at No. 48, is in his first Match Play Championship. The other seven still in the tournament have made it to at least one quarterfinal before this.
At 40, Jaidee is 22 years older than Ishikawa.
Morning winners go on to play the semifinals Saturday afternoon on the course carved out of a desert hillside near Tucson.
Casey, the former Arizona State star who lives in Scottsdale, has played 13 fewer holes in the last three days than has Cink, who knows by experience how precious energy can be on Saturday, when golfers face the prospect of playing 36 holes, perhaps more.
A year ago, Cink won in 19 holes over Richard Sterne, then 23 holes against Lee Westwood. After exhausting 1-up victories over Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, 36 holes on that Saturday, he faced Ogilvy in the final.
“And I just ran out of gas against Ogilvy. I just didn’t have much,” Cink said. “This year I’ve been extra holes once, I’ve been to the 18th hole every other match. I’m not exactly giving myself much rest.”
Casey, on the other hand, is unconcerned about not having seen those final four holes for a while.
“I played them in a practice round, and I played them last year,” he said. “… I think the most important thing is to save the energy.”
Watney and Goosen were even going into the 18th hole. But Watney missed a 6-foot putt for par to help Goosen to make it to the quarterfinals for the third time.
Villegas won four of the last seven holes to beat Crane.
The tournament seemed to become an afterthought to the golf world in the glare of Tiger Woods’ public apology Friday, except for the competitors.
“I’m glad he came out and said something but, you know, I just think everyone should go on with their own lives now and let him get on with his,” Wilson said. “I just want him back on the course.”