In-form Westwood breaks new ground at Match Play

Arizona: With his chipping razor-sharp and his game from tee to green in typically fine fettle, Britain`s Lee Westwood has entered new territory at this week`s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Having never previously reached the third round in 11 appearances at the elite World Golf Championships event, the world number three advanced to the last eight for the first time with a 3&2 victory over Nick Watney on Friday.

Westwood, who would return to the top of the world rankings if he wins Sunday`s final at Dove Mountain, was especially delighted to beat Watney, having lost to the American in the second round in each of the last two years.

"I knew it was going to be a tough match against Nick," the 38-year-old Englishman told reporters with a broad grin. "It was nice to not make that hat-trick and to win, get through to tomorrow and see what happens on the weekend."

Asked whether he was especially focused on deposing fellow Briton Luke Donald from the top spot, Westwood replied: "Obviously I`d like to be No. 1 in the world, but it`s not really a priority. It`s not really a goal I`ve set.

"To win a major championship, to win these World Golf Championships, to win in the States and do that more regularly, those are my goals. If I do that, then the No. 1 in the world ranking just comes along as a product of that.

"But I`d be lying if I didn`t say every guy playing this week wants to be No. 1 in the world."

Westwood, a winner of 21 events on the European Tour and long established as one of the game`s best players, could not explain why he had previously struggled at the Match Play Championship.

"I`ve always enjoyed this tournament and wondered why I haven`t played well at it," he said. "And when I have been at home and watching it on TV, I`ve thought how good the course looks.

"I enjoy playing match play, and it`s nice to get a win in it and see how far I can go."

Westwood, who supplanted Tiger Woods as world number one in November 2010, has never trailed in any of his three matches at Dove Mountain this week.

"I`ve been driving the ball well, long and straight, which allows me to attack some of the flags and sets up well for playing the golf course," said the Briton, who will face Scot Martin Laird in Saturday morning`s quarter-finals.

"My all-over game has been pretty good. I`ve played some really nice chips out there. There`s not really been a weakness. I`ve not really let my opponents into the match."

Westwood has been so confident with his game that he spent much of Friday`s third round chatting about English soccer with Watney.

"He knows a lot about it," said Westwood, who is an ardent supporter of Nottingham Forest. "He`s a (Tottenham) Spurs fan, so that may mean he doesn`t know a lot about it.

"I filled him in on the England manager`s job, and how his manager might be a favourite for it. I like playing with Nick. He`s good company."

Bureau Report