MARANA, United States (AFP) - Spanish second seed Sergio Garcia and a resurgent Rickie Fowler advanced to the third round of the US$9 million (S$11.4 million) World Golf Championships Match Play Championship with impressive wins on Thursday.
Garcia outlasted American Bill Haas 3 and 1 to book a third-round date with Fowler, who edged out US compatriot Jimmy Walker 1 up, beating a form player and the only man to have won three US PGA Tour events this season.
Haas sank a six-foot eagle putt at the second hole to seize the lead and a par at the seventh put him 2-up, but Garcia eagled to win the eighth and squared the match with a par at 11, then birdied three of the next six holes to take the match.
"He played really well early on, then I was able to go on a very nice run from the eighth hole," said Garcia, adding that he was "very pleased," with the win.
Fowler and Walker each won three of the first six holes in a match that was never more than 1-up in either's favor. Both players missed birdie putts at the 18th but Walker could not make par from 14 feet while Fowler two-putted for par from 51 feet, sinking a six footer to win.
"Finally got the putter to roll a couple in," said Fowler, who in the first round downed the Ryder Cup hero and renowned English competitor Ian Poulter, in a welcome burst of form after several missed cuts on tour.
Fowler, 25, sporting a new short haircut, said he hoped his ability to hold off Walker would give him "a little confidence" going into Friday.
Also through to the last 16 at the 64-player event is seventh-seeded Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, who dispatched Swedish 15th seed Peter Hanson 3 and 1.
Event debutante Dubuisson, 23, opened with three birdies but was squared after Hanson birdied three in a row starting at the fifth. A seven-foot birdie at the eighth again gave the Frenchman the lead and he kept it to the end, finishing the match with a 15-foot birdie at 17.
"I did play well," Dubuisson said. "I started the first few holes and I made some good birdies. Then he made three birdies and we were all square. Then I decided just don't watch him play, just play my stroke play and try to make some birdies." Next up for Dubuisson is American Bubba Watson, last week's PGA winner at Riviera who eliminated Swede Jonas Blixt, 2 up.