McDowell bows to clinical Dubuisson at Dove Mountain
Graeme McDowell couldn't extend the match beyond the 18th at Dove Mountain.

Graeme McDowell couldn't extend the match beyond the 18th at Dove Mountain.

Graeme McDowell had no problem admitting that his luck probably ran out as he lost to Victor Dubuisson of France in the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain.

Having performed miracles with his putter to come back from seemingly impossible positions to see off Gary Woodland, Hideki Matsuyama and Hunter Mahan on the first three days, the 34-year old Portrush man simply couldn't hole the putts coming down the stretch.

An ice-cool Dubuisson made three sensational chip and putt pars on the last three holes, clinching a one up victory and set up a semi-final showdown with Ernie Els when McDowell missed a slick, 24 foot birdie putt down a tier at the 18th.

"Disappointed obviously with the finish of that game," McDowell said after his  approach to the last threaten to roll down to the cup but stubbornly stopped at the top of the ridge behind the hole . 

Graeme McDowell watches Victor Dubuisson in the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Picture: Fran Caffrey

Graeme McDowell watches Victor Dubuisson in the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Picture: Fran Caffrey

"I'm lucky, lucky to even be here today. I actually played quite nicely most of the day. It all boiled down to my putter, which actually let me down."

The turning point in the match arguably came at the par-three 16th, where McDowell was short of the green and Dubuisson up against the grandstand at the back.

But while McDowell chipped to six feet, the man from Cannes chipped to four and holed the putt for a win and a one up lead after McDowell's effort had lipped out.

The blimp over Dove Mountain.

The blimp over Dove Mountain.

Both chipped and putted for impressive pars at the 17th — Dubuisson's recovery was remarkable from a very poor lie — but there was to be no 18th hole reprieve for McDowell this time.

Even when Dubuisson laid up off the tee and spun his approach off the front edge and down the hill, the golfing gods were not smiling on him.

With 163 yards to the pin, he rifled an iron shot at the stick but while it pitched just beyond the front pin, it rolled to the top of the ridge behind the hole, oscillated momentarily and remained there, teetering defiantly.

"I had a chance on 14 for the hole, chance on 15 for the hole, missed a short one on 16," McDowell said. "My luck is going to run out sooner than later. I've got to take one of those opportunities and I just didn't do it.

"I'm disappointed with that second shot [tp 18], though. I thought I maybe had a chance to come back down and leave me an easier putt than I did.

"Hats off to Victor. Great player. Hoping to be on the Ryder Cup team with him. He's going to be a great part of our team and a huge young new player from Europe and looking forward to seeing how he does tomorrow."

Having lost the first two holes in the first three rouds, McDowell made a far better start when he halved the first and then wont he second with a conceded eagle three to stand on the third tee with the honour. It was the first time in 61 holes that he had managed to stand on a tee with the lead on any match.

Graeme McDowell tees off at the 11th. 

Graeme McDowell tees off at the 11th. 

He then won the par-three third, stiffing his tee shot, to go two up before Dubuisson fought back.

The 23-year old  holed an 18 footer for birdie to at the fourth to get back to one down, halved the fifth in bogey and then sqaured the match with a biride from five feet at the seventh.

Dubuisson's short game was close to faultless as McDowell discovered at the ninth, where he was lining up a nine foot birdie putt and walked off one-down as Dubuisson chipped in for birdie and he missed for the half.

McDowell did well to level it at the 10th and level, where he hit a 97-yard sand wedge to five and a half feet and holed the birdie putt after Dubuisson had chipped through the green from greenside rough and ended up with only a par.

The Frenchman replied with a towering tee shot to 10 feet at the 206-yard 12th, converting the putt to go one up again but took six at the 13th to leave them level again.

McDowell was playing slightly better golf but he missed an eight footer to win the 14th and left a 20 foot eagle chance short at the next.

Desert blooms.

Desert blooms.

His lip out on the 16th proved crucial in the end and Dubuisson kept his cool to set up a semi-final match with Els, who beat Jordan Spieth 4 and 2.

"I played well today," said Dubuisson, who could rise as high as 17th in the world with a win. “I knew Graeme was going to be a tough player to beat, but I just played my own stroke play and I didn't watch him too much. I tried to just focus on my game and make birdies.

“I have been practising my chipping a lot here this week because the rough around the greens is so thick. That definitely helped me with those tricky chips on the final few holes today.

“I've never played with Ernie before. He has a lot of experience and has won so many tournaments and Majors. I will just do the same as I did today and yesterday against Bubba (Watson), just play my own stroke play and don't watch him, don't be impressed.”

Els was something of a match play specialist at his peak, winning the World Match Play Championship seven times between 1994 and 2007.

He said: “I'm obviously elated. It's been a wonderful week and although at times I haven't played my best, I've just done enough to get through.

“At 44, you know, you're out of most professional sports by 15 years.  Here I am still playing and competing against the youngsters, so it's quite amazing.”

Jason Day beat Louis Oosthuizen 2 and 1 and will face Rickie Fowler in the other semi-final following the young American's 1 up win over Jim Furyk.

WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship


Jason Day (8) bt Louis Oosthuizen (32) 2 and 1

Rickie Fowler (53) bt Jim Furyk (20) 1 up

Ernie Els (31) bt Jordan Spieth (10) 4 and 2

Victor Dubuisson (27) bt Graeme McDowell (14) 1 up

Semi-finals (Irish time)

1405 Jason Day (Aus) v Rickie Fowler (USA)

1420 Ernie Els (SA) v Victor Dubuisson (Fra)


From 1905 (earliest)