Lee Westwood had every reason to pack light for the Match Play Championship. He never made it out of the second round in his 11 previous trips to this tournament, and he never could understand why.

Now it seems as if Westwood can do no wrong.

He has led after 48 of the 49 holes he has played through three rounds at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., barely breaking a sweat under the blazing sun in the high desert. And he erased more bad memories Friday with a 3-and-2 victory over Nick Watney, who had eliminated Westwood each of the last two years.

"You want to come out and get momentum as quickly as possible," said Westwood, who birdied the opening two holes for the second straight match. "And the only way to do that is by winning holes."

Now, Westwood is two matches away from a shot at his first World Golf Championship, and a return to No. 1 in the world.

But he's not alone.

Rory McIlroy also can go to No. 1 in the world for the first time in his young career by winning the Match Play Championship. He also had an easy time, winning on the 17th hole over Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Westwood and McIlroy are on track to face each other Sunday morning in the semifinals.

None of Friday's matches went the distance until the final one, when Bae Sang-moon missed a 6-foot putt on the 17th hole, only to finish off John Senden with a par putt from about the same distance on the 18th hole.

Two of the matches only made it to the 17th, and four of the third-round matches ended on the 15th hole.


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Westwood was No. 1 a year ago, and it's a less of a priority than to capture his first World Golf Championship. Just getting to the quarterfinals is a small achievement.

"I'm just happy to be looking for a different restaurant for Friday night," Westwood said.

Westwood next plays Martin Laird, who won the battle of Scotland by taking down former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, 3 and 1.

Next up for McIlroy is Bae, the South Korean surprise in his first Match Play Championship. Bae won three times last year on the Japan Golf Tour. And while he made it through Q-school to earn a PGA Tour card, he ended last year at No. 30 in the world.

In other matches:

  • Hunter Mahan took advantage of mental lapses by Steve Stricker to build a big lead and won 4 and 3. Mahan will play Matt Kuchar, a 4-and-3 winner against Martin Kaymer, a finalist last year at Dove Mountain. That assures there will be an American in the semifinals at the Match Play for the first time since 2009.

  • Mark Wilson overwhelmed big-hitting Dustin Johnson 4 and 3, the second straight year he beat Johnson.

  • The third-round losers received $140,000. The quarterfinal losers get $270,000.

    LPGA Tour: Katie Futcher and Jenny Shin shot 5-under 67s in the HSBC Women's Champions to join first-round leader Angela Stanford at the top of the leaderboard in Singapore.

    Futcher and Shin both had six birdies and one bogey to reach 8-under 136 and tie Stanford, who had a 70.

    PGA Tour: Daniel Summerhays birdied the final hole for a 6-under 65 and a share of the second-round lead with Will Claxton and Greg Owen in the wind-swept Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Claxton, the first-round leader, shot a 68, and Owen had his second straight 67 to match Summerhays at 8-under 134.