McIlroy nears No. 1 ranking in Match Play

Feb. 24, 2012 at 8:43 PM

MARANA, Ariz., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Rory McIlroy took another step toward the top spot in the world rankings Friday by reaching the quarterfinals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

McIlroy, currently ranked second behind Luke Donald, defeated Miguel Angel Jimenez 3 & 1 to become one of the eight survivors in the year's first World Golf Championship event.

Donald lost in the first round of this tournament and McIlroy can pass him in the rankings by winning this event. McIlroy and third-ranked Lee Westwood are the only two among the world's top 12 players still alive in the tournament.

Westwood reached the quarterfinals with a 3 & 2 win over Nick Watney, who on Thursday eliminated Tiger Woods.

McIlroy will face Song-Moon Bae in the quarterfinals after Bae defeated John Senden 1-up. Westwood's quarterfinal opponent will be Martin Laird, who disposed of Paul Lawrie 3 & 1.

If McIlroy and Westwood both win Saturday, they will meet in the afternoon semifinals. The 36-hole championship match will be played Sunday.

The other quarterfinal matches will send Peter Hanson against Mark Wilson and Matt Kuchar against Hunter Mahan.

Kuchar scored an impressive 4 & 3 win over fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer in the third round while Mahan was knocking off Steve Stricker by the same score.

Hanson rolled over Brandt Snedeker 5 & 3 and Wilson posted a surprisingly easy 4 & 3 victory over Dustin Johnson.

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