From Brian Keogh in Tucson
Padraig Harrington confessed that he made far too many mistakes as he crashed out to Stewart Cink in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson.
The Dubliner was two up after five holes but lost 2 down to the Georgia native at the same stage for the second year in a row, blaming his own errors rather than a niggling back injury for his early exit at The Gallery Golf Club.
“I just gave too many holes away,” said Harrington, who suffered a muscle spasm warming up on the range but returned there to hit balls after his defeat. “My back didn’t affect my swing at all. I just wasn’t with it out there and made too many mistakes.
“He played solidly and I made three or four errors in the match. I missed the sixth from the middle of the fairway, made bogey and handed him the hole.
“And I three putted the 10th from 25 feet, so I handed him two holes there. I got a bit unlucky at the 15th as well, where I hit a good tee shot and ended up under a bush after the wind changed.
“It is not often you hit a really good tee shot and it ended up under a bush but I suppose it is the nature for the game. It is always the same at this event at this time of the year. I am not quite sharp enough and it showed up.
“I wasn’t really focussed out there. Missing the green at the sixth was bad enough but three-putting the 10th really killed me.”
Harrington lost the sixth to par and the eighth to a birdie to be hauled back to all square before three-putts at the 10th and a Cink birdie at the 11th left him two down.
He won the 14th with a chip in birdie, lost the 15th to par after driving into the desert but still went to the last just one down after Cink made bogey at the par-five 17th.
Needing to hole a 60 footer to have any chance of forcing extra holes, he missed and watched Cink hole from 18 feet to double his margin of victory.
It was another day for the underdogs as the lower ranked players won eight of the 16 matches and while five of the world’s top 10 made it to the second round, only Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker survived.
Woods didn’t drop a shot as he defeated Arron Oberholser 3 and 2 while Stricker went to the 20th for the second day on the trot, beating Hunter Mahan with a birdie three.
The biggest casualties of the day were Phil Mickelson, who lost 2 and 1 to Stuart Appleby, and Adam Scott, who was downed on the 19th by the dogged Woody Austin.
Cink will now play Scot Colin Montgomerie, who hopes he impressed Ryder Cup skipper and TV commentator Nick Faldo by coming back from two down after seven to beat Charles Howell III one up.
"Charles birdied the 11th to go all square and my caddie said, 'right, Mr Montgomerie, it's Ryder Cup mode'. I was four under from then on, so he should say that more often in stroke-play events,” Montgomerie said.
Ryder Cup hopeful Boo Weekley beat Spain’s Sergio Garcia 3 and 1 and will now face Woody Austin, who beat Adam Scott with a birdie at the 19th.
Weekley is still learning the nuances of matchplay after failing to concede a eight-inch putt to Martin Kaymer on the first in Wednesday’s first round.
“I’m looking at him, like are you going to tap it in?” said Weekley, whose caddie had to explain the concession rule. “It’s very strange to just walk up there and pick your ball up. Especially when you ain’t used to doing it.”
David Toms withdrew with a back injury, handing Aaron Baddeley a walk-over and a third round clash with Woods while Paul Casey will face KJ Choi following their wins over Bradley Dredge (2&1) and Ian Poulter (19th) respectively.
Jonathan Byrd, who beat Ernie Els in the first round, will take on Henrik Stenson following the Swede’s marathon 25th hole win over South Africa's Trevor Immelman.
With Stenson just two feet away in tow at the driveable seventh, Immelman raced his 20 foot birdie try seven feet past and missed the return.
Appleby had nine birdies as he came back from two down after six holes to beat Mickelson 2 up and set up a third round clash with Justin Leonard, who saw off Lee Westwood 2 and 1.
The winner of that match will play Aussie Rod Pampling, whose 5 and 4 win over Nick O’Hern set up a showdown with Vijay Singh following the Fijian’s 1 up victory over Swede Niclas Fasth.