Rickie Fowler advances in Match Play Championship

Rickie Fowler advances in Match Play Championship
Rickie Fowler watches his tee shot at No. 5 during his second match at the Match Play Championship in San Francisco on Thursday. (Robert Laberge / Getty Images)

Rickie Fowler escaped with three big putts and beat Shane Lowry of Ireland on Thursday to secure his spot in the round of 16 at the Match Play Championship at San Francisco.

Fowler still has one more match to play Friday, which effectively is a practice round in the middle of a tournament. He already has won two matches in round-robin play and is assured of having the best record to advance from his four-man group.


The second day at TPC Harding Park brought out a strange element for match play — scoreboard watching.

J.B. Holmes went 19 holes to beat Russell Henley and then stayed on the course to watch the match behind him. He knew Brooks Koepka had to win or else Holmes would be eliminated. Koepka won the last three holes and wound up beating Marc Warren of Scotland.

Fowler knew he would win his group provided Harris English beat Graeme McDowell, because Fowler had already defeated English. McDowell had a 3-up lead until English rallied to win five out of six holes for a 2-and-1 victory.

John Senden also locked up a spot in the round of 16 with a victory over Bill Haas. Henrik Stenson's victory over Brendon Todd ensured that.

It wasn't all confusing.

Rory McIlroy went the distance to beat Brandt Snedeker, while Billy Horschel had no trouble dispatching Jason Dufner. McIlroy and Horschel are both 2-0 and play Friday to determine who advances to the weekend.

"It's win or go home," McIlroy said. "So it's back to the usual format."

McIlroy and Horschel have some history, though it's ancient at that. They faced each other in the 2007 Walker Cup, and McIlroy was a little irritated by what he perceived to be excessive emotions from Horschel. They split the two matches they played. Both have talked and laughed about those days, and there are no ill feelings. Then again, they haven't played each other in match play since then.

"Back then, we were a little bit younger and a little more emotional," McIlroy said. "So it was pretty heated. I don't think tomorrow will be quite so much like that. But still, you need to win or go home. So it's an important game."

Gary Woodland put away Ian Poulter, the Ryder Cup wizard who now has lost his last three matches in this tournament. That means Woodland and Webb Simpson, who beat Jimmy Walker, will play Friday for the right to advance.

Jordan Spieth was 3-up on Matt Every late in the day as the Masters champion attempted to go 2-0.

Ko struggles in Texas

Lydia Ko had a triple bogey after losing a ball in a pine tree and dropped three more strokes on the next two holes to put her career-long LPGA Tour cuts streak in jeopardy in the North Texas Shootout at Irving, Texas

Ko finished with a four-over-par 75 at Las Colinas, leaving the top-ranked New Zealander nine strokes behind leaders Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr and Sydnee Michaels.

Coming off a victory Sunday in California, the 18-year-old Ko was tied for 117th in the 144-player field that will be cut to the top 70 and ties after the second round and to the top 50 and ties after the third. Ko has made the 36-hole cuts in all 50 of her LPGA Tour starts.

Ko said Wednesday that she will donate her earnings this week to the earthquake relief effort in Nepal.

The 54-year-old Inkster also shared the first-round lead last week in California and ended up tying for 15th. She won the last of her 31 tour titles in 2006.