One small step for some was a giant leap for Lee Westwood yesterday as he finally made the last 16 of the Accenture Match Play Championship at the 12th attempt.
Needing to win the title on Sunday to regain the world No 1 spot from the already-departed Luke Donald, the 38-year-old third seed beat Robert Karlsson 3&2 in the second round at Dove Mountain near Tucson.
Westwood, six under par in defeating Nicolas Colsaerts, won four of the first six holes, but had to go far further than seemed likely when he moved five clear at the 10th.
Without a bogey in his first 27 holes, the Worksop golfer suddenly made a mess of the long 11th and then saw the Ryder Cup Swede chip in for eagle at the 583-yard 13th.
Westwood was in the desert scrub again off the tee at the driveable 15th and Karlsson did not even have to putt to be only two down.
But a par on the short next was good enough when Karlsson failed to get up and down from sand and Westwood then had to wait to see if it was three-time winner Tiger Woods he faced for a place in the quarter-finals.
For the second day running Woods was involved in a tight encounter. After edging out Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano on the final green from one down with four to go Woods trailed fellow American Nick Watney by two with three to play.
Not that Westwood would consider Watney an easier opponent. He is the player who has knocked him out the last two years.
Scots Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird, meanwhile, set up a clash against each other.
Lawrie followed up his first-round victory over England’s Justin Rose by taking out 20-year-old Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa, again on the final green.
Laird, meanwhile, got the better of 18-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero 2&1 - and had no fewer than eight birdies in the process.
“I needed all of them. That was a great match,” said the United States-based Laird. “That’s as good as I’ve played in a while.”
A quarter-finalist on his debut in the event 12 years ago - he was Open champion at the time, of course - Lawrie is making his first appearance since 2003.
Winner of the Qatar Masters earlier this month and on course for a return to the Ryder Cup side after a 13-year gap, the 43-year-old from Aberdeen was one ahead on three separate occasions before he finally got into a two-up lead when Ishikawa bogeyed the ninth.
His opponent refused to let him get away, though, and Lawrie’s bogey on the 17th meant it went the distance. Ishikawa missing a 15-foot chance.