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Mickelson falls to Fowler

MARANA, Ariz. — Hotter than his matching pink hat, shirt and shoes, Rickie Fowler led a dynamic charge of the next generation Thursday in the Match Play Championship.

Fowler, 22, made two eagles in three holes to send Phil Mickel­son, 40, to a 6 and 5 loss, his worst in this World Golf Champion­ships event.

Equally impressive was Italy's teen sensation, 17-year-old Matteo Manassero, who hit a 6-iron to 4 feet on the 17th hole and closed out Charl Schwartzel to advance.

Of the 16 players remaining, eight are younger than 30. That includes Nick Watney, 29, who knocked out top-ranked Lee Westwood, making this the third straight year the No. 1 seed did not make it out of the second round.

The highest seed remaining after two wild days was PGA champion Martin Kaymer, 25, who had to go 20 holes to beat Justin Rose.

Mickelson didn't play his best, and it might not have mattered.

Fowler seized control with a tough pitch to close range on the eighth, chipped in from off the green on the 10th, then made two eagles. He ended the match with a 4-iron from 232 yards that rolled so close to the flag that Mickelson conceded the eagle.

"I played great," Fowler said. "And Phil left a couple of doors open that I took advantage of."

Mickelson said Fowler, a native of Anaheim, Calif., is a complete player.

"He doesn't really have a weakness," Mickelson, 40, said. "And he put it together (Thursday). I just couldn't keep pace. I think he's going to do a lot for American golf."

It hasn't been a bad week for Americans. Eight are in the round of 16, the most in five years. The surprise is who they are: not Mickelson or Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk (all gone after the first round), but, along with Fowler, Watney, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Ben Crane, Ryan Moore and J.B. Holmes.

PGA: David Toms got off to a good start in a bid for his first tour victory in more than five years, shooting 5-under 66 for a share of the first-round lead in the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Andres Gonzales, Mark Hensby and Kyle Stanley also opened with 66. Defending champion Cameron Beckman was a stroke back in a group with five others.

LPGA: Chie Arimura overcame strong winds to shoot 4-under 68 and take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. Na Yeon Choi shot 69, and world No. 1 Yani Tseng, seeking her fourth straight title in as many weeks, was in a group of four at 70. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 3-over 75.

Mickelson falls to Fowler 02/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 24, 2011 10:00pm]
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