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Posted Feb 25, 2011, 6:24 pm
PGA officials jiggered the schedule of the Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday afternoon after the National Weather Service forecast weekend snow across much of Southern Arizona.
Though the white stuff is unlikely to stick at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Marana, tournament officials moved Sunday morning's semifinal matches to Saturday afternoon. The four players who advance in Saturday morning's quarterfinals will immediately start their semifinal matches, leaving only the final and consolation matches for Sunday.
A storm sweeping in from California Saturday night into Sunday morning is expected to dump up to 9 inches of snow atop Mount Lemmon and sprinkle the valley floors with rain and potential 1-2 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said Friday.
Because of the weather changes, tickets for either weekend day will be good for admission to both days, tournament officials announced late Friday. Weekend tickets for the various VIP areas of the course will also be good both days.
The field for Saturday's matches was set Friday afternoon.
Age and experience parried a youthful Accenture attack when Rickie Fowler, the 22-year-old 2010 PGA rookie of the year, was ousted by relative veteran Matt Kuchar, who is in his eleventh PGA season. Fowler, who beat perennial Arizona favorite and fellow native Californian Phil Mickelson on Thursday, never led the Friday match, though he stayed afloat through the 17th hole for the 2-and-1 loss.
Kuchar will take on Korea's Y.E. Yang, who entered the tournament ranked 44th in the world, in a Saturday quarterfinal. Yang beat Graeme McDowell Friday to advance.
Another 10-year Tour veteran, Englishman Luke Donald, dispatched Italian Matteo Manassero, who at 17 was the youngest player in the field. Manassero slipped to 5 down before making a comeback, but it wasn't enough as Donald won it 3-and-2 after the 16th hole.
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Donald, who is in his seventh Accenture Match Play event, will tee up Saturday against Ryan Moore, who sent Nick Watney home in the longest match Friday - 19 holes. Moore, who was ranked 40th coming into Tucson, was ousted after one match in his first Accenture tournament last year.
The highest seed left in the tournament, Germany's Martin Kaymer, will go up against Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiminez, who at 46 is the oldest competitor left. Jiminez contributed to the age-before-beauty scenario on Friday by serving up a 7-and-6 trouncing to 34-year-old Ben Crane. Kaymer entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in the world.
The last quarterfinal will feature two of the PGA's biggest power hitters - J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson. The two are ranked fifth and first in driving distance, respectively. Watson enters the quarters via a 6-and-4 win over 2006 and 2009 Accenture Match Play winner Geoff Ogilvy. Holmes beat Accenture newcomer Jason Day to get to the weekend.
The course will be open 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.