MARANA, United States: Rickie Fowler withstood a back-nine charge by Jim Furyk to beat his fellow American 1 up in a nail-biting finale on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) and book a WGC Match Play Championship semifinal with Jason Day.
Furyk, 3 down through 12 holes, won four straight to take a 1-up lead through 16. But Fowler held his nerve to win the last two holes for the narrow victory.
Australia’s Day, who finished third in the elite 64-man event last year, defeated South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen 2 and 1.
In Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) other semifinal in the Arizona desert, South African veteran Ernie Els will take on France’s Victor Dubuisson for a place in the Sunday afternoon championship match in the $9-million event.
Els notched the most emphatic victory of the day, subduing rising US star Jordan Spieth 4 and 2. Dubuisson edged Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell 1 up.
Els opened with two birdies in the first three holes and never trailed against Spieth.
“I’m just fortunate to be here, and hopefully it goes good tomorrow,” said Els, who is in the semifinals for the first time since 2001. “I still feel I’ve got a really good one in me.”
Furyk dug himself out of a hole against Fowler with birdie wins at 13, 14, and 15 to square the match.
He took the lead when Fowler bogeyed 16, but Furyk missed the green at 17 and ended up with a two-putt bogey that leveled the match.
At 18, Furyk’s approach rolled back off the false front of the green, and his first attempt to chip on ended with the ball crawling back toward his feet.
Fowler, safely on the green, placed his first putt to within three feet to set up the win.
“Jim started to come on pretty hard there,” Fowler said. “I knew he was going to put something up when he was 3 down. I just had to stay patient. I didn’t have too many bad swings. I forced him to make some birdies.”