Harrington, Westwood also advance

Updated: October 15, 2004, 3:47 PM ET
Associated Press

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 quarterfinals.

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 match.

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 2-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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press