Henrik Stenson Leads Quartet Through to Volvo Semifinals
World No. 5 Henrik Stenson is the top dog of the remaining four players still alive at the Volvo World Match Play championship in London after knocking off fellow Swede Jonas Blixt 2 up during Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Stenson is joined in the final four by The Netherlands’ Joost Luiten, who embarrassed Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal 6 & 5, Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, a 2 up winner over France’s Victor Dubuisson and South Africa’s George Coetzee, who edged American Patrick Reed 2 & 1.
Luiten can’t say he won’t be well-rested for the semifinals after needing just 13 holes to crush Larrazabal. The Dutchman won five of the first seven holes and it was simple arithmetic from there. He was 7-under through 13 holes, while Larrazabal, who ominously double bogeyed No. 1, struggled to an even par score.
Stenson, whose hometown of Gothenburg is about a two-hour drive from Blixt’s native Nassjo, was 3-up through 13 holes thanks to back-to-back birdies on 10 and 11. Blixt cut the lead to a single hole thanks to birdies on 14 and 15, but Stenson’s clutch putt on 18 gave him the victory.
Ilonen made it two Scandanavians in the semifinals by rallying past Dubuisson. The Finn didn’t have the lead for the first time until after Dubuisson bogeyed No. 12, and didn’t take it for good until another bogey by his French opponent on No. 16. Ilonen secured the victory with a birdie on 18.
After back-to-back clutch wins to escape his pool, America’s Reed fought Coetzee tooth and nail, with neither man enjoying more than a 1-up lead until Coetzee’s back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13. Reed narrow the gap to one on a birdie on the par-5 No. 15, but Coetzee got the stroke back on the next hole.
Sunday’s semifinals will pit Ilonen against Luiten at 8:05 a.m. with Coetzee squaring off with Stenson following at 8:20 a.m.