Getting to the round of 16 in the Match Play Championship was all that mattered Thursday.
Jordan Spieth made it look like child's play. Graeme McDowell staged another stunning escape. And it proved too difficult for Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy, who lost in extra holes at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
"I thought I was dead and buried both days," McDowell said.
One day after he rallied from 3 down with three holes to play to win in overtime against Gary Woodland, McDowell was two holes behind on the 15th tee when he made an 8-foot birdie putt, halved 16 with a 10-foot par putt, won 17 with a birdie putt and holed a 6-foot par putt on 18 for a 1-up win over Hideki Matsuyama.
Stenson, the No. 1 seed, fell behind early against Louis Oosthuizen and never caught up in a 4-and-3 loss.
Rose (No. 2) and McIlroy (No. 4) followed him.
Ernie Els made one clutch putt after another to stay in the match against Rose, and then beat the reigning U.S. Open champion. Els got up-and-down on the 18th hole by making a 6-foot par putt. Els and Rose both made 10-foot birdie putts on the 19th hole, and Els finally got a break to go his way in a format that has haunted him over the years.
His approach hit the slope of the bunker's collar, and while the shot didn't go as planned, it was close to perfect.
"It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime shots," Els said. "It hit the bank and just trickled over to about 4 feet."
Rose left his shot in the bunker.
McIlroy had his hands full against Harris English. McIlroy went from the left rough to the desert on the 19th hole, and his only hope was to play an explosion shot, which sailed over the green by the TV tower. He made double bogey and was headed home.
"He played really solid today and didn't really do much wrong, didn't really give me anything," McIlroy said.
Rickie Fowler, coming off three straight missed cuts, ousted one of golf's hottest players, Jimmy Walker, in 18 holes.
Defending champion Matt Kuchar had a 1-up win over Ryan Moore. Next up for Kuchar is Spieth, who eliminated Thomas Bjorn 5 and 4.
LPGA: Anna Nordqvist holed out from 60 yards for eagle on the par-4 15th and made a short birdie putt on 17 to take a one-shot lead over Michelle Wie at the LPGA Thailand.
Nordqvist shot a 6-under 66 at Pattaya Old Course. Wie birdied all four of the par 5s.
Angela Stanford, Lexi Thompson and Jennifer Johnson shot 68. Stanford had a hole-in-one on the 135-yard eighth hole, using an 8-iron.