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Accenture Match Play Championship

Poulter pounds Garcia in Match Play; Casey-Villegas suspended

The Brit and Colombian will tee off at 7:10 a.m. Sunday to complete match, which went to 23 holes all-square

Ian Poulter pounded his Accenture Match Play Championship opponent Sergio Garcia worse than Mother Nature pounded the Dove Mountain golf course Saturday.

Firing six birdies in 11 holes, many in pelting, windy rain that briefly suspended play and had flags whipping and fans ducking for cover, Englishman Poulter sent the Spaniard to the consolation match Saturday. The match ended on the 11th hole with a score of 7 & 6, the widest margin of victory in any match thus far in the tournament.

The rain started falling - and the wind whipping to gusts in excess of 30 mph – minutes after the match started. By the fourth hole, the golfers told a referee conditions were unplayable. Officials then halted play for about 20 minutes.

"It was just nice that that rain backed off on us, and we could play some sensible golf," said Poulter, who is ranked No. 11 in the world.

Garcia, who before this year had never played on the weekend in nine Match Play appearances, was disappointed.

"I obviously didn't play well. The first four or five holes were really stupid. But you know, at the end of the day he played awesome," Garcia said. He made everything he looked at, and I just didn't."

Poulter has made it past Friday just once in his six previous Match Plays. In 2005, he lost a semifinal to eventual winner David Toms, then lost the consolation match on Sunday to South African Retief Goosen.

The other semifinal – between Paul Casey of England and Colombian Camilo Villegas – was suspended after 23 holes because of darkness.

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The match, which puts the winner in the final against Poulter, was the first Casey had taken past the 14th hole all week.
Casey seeks to be in the final for the second year in a row in his eighth appearance in the Match Play. He was last year's runner-up to champion Geoff Ogilvy. He has played in the tournament every year since 2003.

The marathon match took its toll, Casey said.

"But, you know, it's amazing what a little adrenaline will do. And the opportunity to get myself into a final and play for the WGC title. So, you know, that kind of carries you through," he said.

Villegas will rest and return for more, he said.

"It was a long day, and like (Casey) said, one of us has to win," Villegas said.

The two will tee off at 7:10 a.m. Sunday to complete the match.

The 36-hole final and a consolation match for third place will be played on Sunday.

The champion will get $1.4 million of the $8.5 million purse. Second place earns $850,000, third place $600,000 and fourth place $490,000.

Earlier

Play was suspended indefinitely at about 12:30 p.m. in the Accenture Match Play Championship as steady rain and high wind whipped the course.

The international flavor of the tournament continued into the semifinals Saturday, when two Brits, a Spaniard and a Colombian survived into the round of four. The remaining players:

Ian Poulter (faces Sergio Garcia in a Saturday afternoon semifinal) – The Englishman secured his spot in the semis by dispatching Thai star Thongchai Jaidee with a 1-up win on No. 18. Poulter, who is ranked No. 11 in the world, has made it past Friday just once in his six previous Match Play appearances. In 2005, he lost a semifinal to eventual winner David Toms, then lost the consolation match on Sunday to South African Retief Goosen.

"It will be tough," Poulter said of the afternoon match against Garcia, which will be plagued by rain. "I was in this position last fall. There will be lots of adrenaline flowing."

Paul Casey (faces Camilo Villegas the semifinal) - In his eighth appearance in the Match Play, Casey scored a decisive 5 & 4 win over American Stewart Cink on Saturday. Casey, ranked No. 8 coming into the Match Play, was last year's runner-up to champion Geoff Ogilvy. He has played in the tournament every years since 2003.

""It was going to be a very close match," Casey said of his morning play. "It could be the closest match I've had all week. For me, this afternoon is going to be another close match."

Camillo Villegas (faces Casey) – The Colombian standout moved into the semifinals by handily beating South Africa's Retief Goosen 4 & 3. In his third Match Play appearance, Villegas has had never advanced past Friday until this year. He was ranked No. 25 in the world coming into the week.

"Yeah, the ball is not going to cary as far," Villegas said of the rainy conditions that moved in on Dove Mountain shortly before noon. "We'll see how tha rain softens a little bit the greens, or maybe make them skip. Who knows?"

Sergio Garcia (Faces Ian Poulter) – Garcia was ranked No. 15 coming into the tournament. He entered the semifinals with a 4 & 3 win over Englishman Oliver Wilson. Garcia, who is in his ninth Match Play appearance, had never advanced past Friday in his eight previous Match Play tournaments.

"It wasn't easy out there. We didn't play our best, that's for sure. I managed to platy better the last four holes, but I need to play better," Garcis said after his morning match.

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B. Poole/TucsonSentinel.com

Ian Poulter will be in the Match Play final versus the winner of the Paul Casey-Camilo Villegas semifinal.