Graeme McDowell only had to go through to motions in a dead rubber to cruise into the last 16 of the Volvo World Match Play in Spain. But Darren Clarke’s miserable run of form since winning The Open continued when he lost to Robert Rock and Justin Rose at Finca Cortestin near Marbella.
The Dungannon man lost on the last to Rock before going down 6 and 4 to an impressive Rose. He also lost in the first round of the Accenture World Match Play in Tucson earlier this year and apart from some limited field or no-cut events, he has made just four cuts since he lifted the Claret Jug last July and none this year.
Clarke spoke earlier this week of his hurt pride and Rose was almost at a loss for words after receiving sincere congratulations from the Ulster star following their afternoon clash. His advice? Be patient. You’ve been around long enough.
The 43-year old doesn’t want a sympathy vote, but Rose, the WGC-Cadillac Championship winner, cast his anyway when he said: “He obviously alluded to the fact that things haven’t gone terribly right since winning The Open. It must be tough, all of the expectation.
“The only thing that’s gone right for him, which you’ve got to really hopefully draw on, is his family life. That’s some positives there and I think living back in Northern Ireland, he’s really enjoying that.
“So obviously he’s a good enough player, but hopefully the golf will come around. He’s got to try and be patient. We’ve all been there. Yeah, you see it still hurts him.”
There’s still hope for Clarke, as Rose told Jamien Corrigan of the Daily Telegraph:
Yet, in terms of the future, Rose was happy to see his friend so disheartened. It was evidence that the competitive pulse still beats.
“You can tell it still hurts him, it’s not like he has checked out,” said Rose. “Darren still wants to be a great player. And that’s good.”
The Volvo World Match Play has lost much of its lustre since it moved from Wentworth a few years ago. The format has been changed to a round robin for the first two days and while there are some fine players in the 24-man field, the biggest names to be seen (with respect to messers Rose, McDowell, Garcia and Poulter) are those of the group names: Ballesteros, Palmer, Woosnam, Norman, Player…
Ironically, three of the eight players eliminated yesterday were major champions with Clarke, Martin Kaymer and Charl Schwartzel joining Jbe Kruger, Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Peter Hanson, Branden Grace and John Senden on the road to Malaga airport.
McDowell had the morning off and with Robert Karlsson halving with Kruger, his afternoon match with the little-known South African was irrelevant. He still gave it his all, winning 4 and 3 to set up a last 16 meeting with Richard Finch this morning.
“You still want to go and do a job,” McDowell said. “You don’t want to be losing.”
Confessing to some jet-lag after travelling to Spain from Florida on Tuesday, McDowell added: “I have had a couple of nice late tee times and a little jetlag the last couple of nights. I haven’t been sleeping great so I will try and get a good night’s sleep tonight and feel fresh for a big weekend, hopefully. I am hoping to play the best part of 72 holes this weekend. That would be great. I’d love to win what is a very prestigious title on the European Tour.”
Karlsson beat Kruger in a playoff for the other spot from their group to set up a meeting with Rafael Cabrera Bello with the winner of that one facing defending champion Ian Poulter or Alvaro Quiros.
Poulter beat Tom Lewis in the afternoon to extended his unbeaten run in singles matchplay combat to 14 matches. Lewis’ reward is a last 16 meeting with Sergio Garcia with the winner of that one taking on McDowell or Finch.
As for Garcia, the Spaniard admitted that he spoke in haste when said during the Masters that he simply doesn’t have what it takes to win a major:
Well, it was obviously a little bit of the heat of the moment, but at the same time, that’s the way I was feeling at that point. Because, you know, I’ve been 13 years around here, and it hasn’t happened to me. You know, at the moment, the way I’m hitting the ball, there’s no chance of winning a major. Hopefully I’ll get better and I have my chances so hopefully I’ll get some more and, you know, get lucky one day and win.
- LAST 16
- 25 0745 Sergio GARCIA v Tom LEWIS
- 26 0755 Graeme MCDOWELL v Richard FINCH
- 27 0805 Paul LAWRIE v Thomas BJORN
- 28 0815 Retief GOOSEN v Robert ROCK
- 29 0825 Brandt SNEDEKER v Camilo VILLEGAS
- 30 0835 Justin ROSE v Nicolas COLSAERTS
- 31 0845 Ian POULTER v Alvaro QUIROS
- 32 0855 Rafael CABRERA BELLO v Robert KARLSSON.
- QUARTER FINAL DRAW
- 33 1320 Winner Match 25 v Winner Match 26
- 34 1330 Winner Match 27 v Winner Match 28
- 35 1340 Winner Match 29 v Winner Match 30
- 36 1350 Winner Match 31 v Winner Match 32
- SEMI FINALS
- 37 0845 Winner Match 34 v Winner Match 35
- 38 0855 Winner Match 33 v Winner Match 36
- 39 1350 Winner Match 37 v Winner Match 38