Snedeker beat Stanley in Match Play

By John Nicholson

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 23 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

England's Lee Westwood hits out of the bunker on 13 while playing Robert Karlsson during the Match Play Championship golf tournament on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012, in Marana, Ariz. Westwood won 3 and 2.

Matt York, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

MARANA, Ariz. — Brandt Snedeker took advantage of Kyle Stanley's late meltdown — again.

Four weeks after beating Stanley in a playoff at Torrey Pines, Snedeker topped Stanley 2 and 1 on Thursday in the second round of the Match Play Championship.

"We've got some history going on," Snedeker said. "He's a great guy. I played really good today. We just gave each other a few too many holes."

At Torrey Pines, Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round, and still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the tee at the par-5 18th. But his third shot had too much spin and didn't get high enough on the green, spinning down the slope and into the water. He three-putted from 45 feet, then lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole when his 5-foot par putt caught the right edge of the cup.

On Thursday at Dove Mountain, Stanley bogeyed the final three holes. Snedeker won the par-4 15th and par-3 16th with pars, then matched Stanley's bogey on the par-4 17th for a halve to close out the victory.

Stanley rebounded quickly after the devastating loss at Torrey Pines, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit a week later to win the Phoenix Open.

Snedeker will play Peter Hanson on Friday.

"If he gets his putter working, he's pretty tough to beat," Snedeker said. "So, I know I've got my hands full tomorrow. I've just got to go out there and hit a lot of fairways and hit a lot of greens and put some pressure on him."

Hansen beat Ernie Els 5 and 4.

HORSING AROUND: Lee Westwood took a break on the driving range before his second-round match to watch a horse race on his phone.

"I had a horse running in Dubai about an hour before I teed off," Westwood said. "Rerouted. It's a good horse, just doesn't win. At least it came in second, which I can sympathize with to a certain extent."

The third-ranked Westwood, in position to take the top spot from Luke Donald with a victory in the final Sunday, beat Robert Karlsson 3 and 2 to set up a third-round match against Nick Watney — a 1-up winner over Tiger Woods.

"The further you get and the more you play, the more confident you become, and more you get used to playing the golf course, the shots around the greens and the speed of the greens," Westwood said. "I'm a pretty good match play as the record suggests in other match play events. I feel the way I'm playing, I'll be tough to beat."

The English star reached the third round for the first time in 12 appearances in the event. He lost to Watney in the second round the last two years.

"I'm normally watching it at home on TV," Westwood said. "It's good to watch, but I'm hoping it's better to play."

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy also can take the No. 1 spot with a tournament victory.

"Everyone keeps telling me, so it's hard to put it out of my mind," McIlroy said. "It's a little bit of extra motivation this week knowing that if I can get through four more matches, I could go to the top of the world ranking."

He beat Anders Hansen 3 and 2 to advance to play Miguel Angel Jimenez.

BIRDIE HUNTER: Hunter Mahan had nine birdies — the last two conceded — in 15 holes in his 5-and-3 victory over Y.E. Yang.

Mahan also had three pars and three bogeys.

Mahan dropped the first hole with a bogey, pulled even with a birdie on the par-5 second, and lost the par-3 third with a par. He birdied Nos. 4-8 — holing out from a bunker on the par-3 sixth — to take a 4-up lead.

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