Poulter rolls but awaits foe

MARANA, Ariz. — Ian Poulter equaled the shortest match of the tournament to reach the final of the Match Play Champion­ship. He won't know whom he plays until today because the longest match didn't finish.

Paul Casey and Camilo Villegas exchanged a series of great shots and clutch putts through 23 holes Saturday until twilight in the high desert made it too difficult to continue the WGC event.

They were to return this morning to see who gets to take on Poulter, who closed out Sergio Garcia on the 12th hole, 7 and 6.

The final stroke of a long day belonged to former Florida Gator Villegas, who had a 3-foot par putt on the 14th hole to win the match. He pushed the ball to the right: "I should have made that putt."

And it gave Casey a reprieve.

"If I had to get up early, I wanted to be in the final. I didn't want to be continuing a semifinal," Casey said. "One of us has to be in the final. And both of us want to be there."

Both players were exhausted, especially having endured quarterfinal matches Saturday morning, then coping with a few hours of wretched conditions — cold, wind and rain that briefly halted play.

In his semifinal, Poulter had little trouble with Garcia despite the weather. He won four straight holes then effectively closed out the match with four straight birdies.

Tiger saga: Caddie Steve Williams says he won't tolerate any heckling of Tiger Woods whenever the world's No. 1 golfer returns to competition.

"Nothing changes," Williams told the Sun-Herald in Australia's Queensland state, where he was on vacation. "My job is to give him the best information I can and get him around in the fewest possible strokes. … I won't do anything differently. I won't view him any differently. I will do the utmost best to be as professional as I can."

Woods on Friday apologized for cheating on his wife, Elin, and said he's unsure when he'll return.

PGA: Joe Durant remained in position for his first tour victory since 2006, birdieing the final two holes for 2-under 69 and a two-stroke lead at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Durant finished at 14-under 199, ahead of Charles Warren (65) and J.P. Hayes (69).

LPGA: Suzann Pettersen had her third bogey-free round in a row, shooting 4-under 68 and opening a five-stroke lead at the season-opening Thailand Open in Pattaya. The 2007 champion, who finished at 18-under 198, pulled away from Song-Hee Kim (68). Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (71) was tied for 22nd at 3 under.

Champions: Tommy Armour III and Tim Simpson were tied for the lead at 13-under 131 after the second round of the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton. Armour shot 8-under 64, and Simpson eagled No. 18 for 65.

Today

World Match Play

Camilo Villegas and Paul Casey must finish their semifinal match, which reached a sixth extra hole. The winner faces Ian Poulter in the 36-hole final.

TV: 9 a.m. Golf; 2 p.m. Ch. 10

Poulter rolls but awaits foe 02/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 20, 2010 10:22pm]

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