MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Paul Casey has taken another big step in his one-sided march through the Match Play Championship by beating Stewart Cink in 14 holes at chilly, windy Dove Mountain, where light rain turned heavy late Saturday morning.
Cink’s loss left no Americans in the afternoon semifinals for the first time in the tournament’s 12-year history.
It was Casey’s fourth 5 and 4 win in four rounds. The English-born golfer, who attended Arizona State University and lives in Scottsdale, has yet to play the final four holes in the event.
“I don’t know where that came from, I must admit,” Casey said. “(Nick) Faldo suggested I go play the last four holes just to practice.”
Casey faces Colombian Camilo Villegas, a 4 and 3 winner over South African Retief Goosen. In the other quarterfinals, Spain’s Sergio Garcia beat Oliver Wilson 4 and 3, and Englishman Ian Poulter edged Tongchai Jaidee of Thailand 1-up.
Jaidee had not trailed in a match all week until Poulter went 1-up on the 17th hole. Jaidee, seeded No. 48, lost when his 15-foot putt hung on the left lip of the cup on the 18th.
“I’m very disappointed,” Jaidee said in broken English. “Big event. I try. I enjoy to play this tournament, you know, but different. Is not like a normal one.”
The day began chilly when the first group teed off at 7:10 a.m., local time. The wind picked up through the morning and gray clouds moved in. The rain began to fall just as the golfers were wrapping up the quarterfinals.
“It was difficult out there,” Poulter said. “The wind started to blow around that back nine and it got very, very cold.”
Casey, runner-up to Geoff Ogilvy a year ago, won three consecutive holes to go 4-up at the turn. Cink managed to win the 13th hole, but Casey won the next two. He sank a 15-footer for birdie on No. 13, then clinched it when both birdied No. 14.
“I was trying all day to avoid being a victim to that four again to him,” Cink said. “He played really well and I didn’t play as well as I did in the first three matches. That explains the score.”
The Americans’ poor showing was enhanced by the absence of three-time champion Tiger Woods because of his sex scandal and Phil Mickelson, who took the week off for a family vacation. The event’s top-seeded player, American Steve Stricker, was knocked out in the first round.
The semifinals included two Englishmen, a Colombian and a Spaniard. Casey was the only one who had made it to the semis before.
Garcia had never advanced to the quarterfinals in eight tries until this year. Villegas lost in the first round in 2008 and in the third round last year, his first two appearances.
Poulter, in his seventh match play, made it to the semifinals in 2005.