VIRGINIA WATER, England -- Ernie Els scored close victories over Scott Drummond and Angel Cabrera on Friday to move into the semifinals of the World Match Play Championship and stay on course for a record sixth title.
Els defeated Drummond 2 and 1 in a first-round match that was
completed early Friday. He then defeated Cabrera 1-up in the
Padraig Harrington edged Thomas Levet 1-up in another
quarterfinal, and Lee Westwood defeated Retief Goosen 2 and 1. The
fourth quarterfinal was halted by darkness with Miguel Angel Jimenez leading Bernhard Langer 3-up after 28 holes of the 36-hole
Saturday's semifinals at Wentworth just outside London have Els against Harrington and Jimenez or Langer facing Westwood.
Els needed just one hole Friday morning to finish off Drummond in a first-round match suspended by darkness Thursday after a 2½-hour rain delay. He trailed by one stroke after 18 against
Cabrera, but rallied to win 1-up with a birdie on the final hole.
Els, ranked No. 2 in the world, drove poorly in the first 18
against Cabrera and went out of bounds twice at the long 17th. But
he improved in the second 18.
"This afternoon I started swinging like I wanted to. I've been
working on something in my takeaway, snatching at it a little bit.
Only now is it starting to click in with my body," Els said.
The day's big upset came when Langer ousted the world's
top-ranked player, Vijay Singh, on the first playoff hole of their
first-round match, also halted Thursday evening by darkness.
Langer said the victory over Singh reminded him of "that old Bible story when little David beat Goliath. He's No. 1 in the world and I'm somewhere in the mid-70s. He was the hot favorite."
In beating Ryder Cup teammate Levet, Harrington was injured when his right hand hit a tree on the follow-through from a shot in the
rough. He had it bandaged and was unable to swing freely for the
rest of his round.
"I thought I had loads of room. How I got my hand to the tree I
don't know," Harrington said.
All four Americans in the field, and Canada's Mike Weir, lost in
the first round.
The winner Sunday receives $1.8 million, billed as the biggest
prize in world golf.