Arizona: World number four Graeme McDowell ensured he will move past Tiger Woods in next week`s rankings with a 4&2 victory over Britain`s Ross Fisher at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday.
Third-ranked Woods was eliminated by Denmark`s Thomas Bjorn in Wednesday`s first round at Dove Mountain and could be overtaken by anyone else in the top 10 still competing in this week`s elite 64-man event.
"Wow, I`m perhaps a better golfer than him in the last 12 months but he`s definitely the greatest player that`s ever lived," McDowell told reporters about Woods after reaching the third round of the Match Play for the first time.
"The world rankings ... it makes nice reading right now. Of course, if someone told me at some point in my career I would be number three in the world, I`d be proud of that fact."
"It`s no God-given right to do anything but it would be nice to slip past Tiger for a little while."
McDowell, who won his first major title at last year`s U.S. Open, took control after losing the opening hole to Fisher before sealing victory at the par-three 16th.
"It was an interesting day playing against Ross, one of my good friends," the 31-year-old from Northern Ireland said. "It`s tough to have that killer instinct you need. You have to put the blinkers on and get down to business."
"The front nine was reasonable quality golf and then the back nine disintegrated into a comedy of errors. I threw him a hole and on 14, he threw it straight back to me again. That was really the key to the match."
McDowell advanced into the third round of the event for the first time in five attempts and will next face South Korean Yang Yong-eun, who beat American Stewart Cink 4&3.
"Y.E. is a solid player and has got a great short game," McDowell said. "He`s going to be a tough competitor. So I`m looking forward to the match."
"I haven`t been playing my best but I`m still alive and kicking, so anything can happen. Hopefully my confidence will continue to grow."
The biggest surprise for McDowell on Thursday was the early exit of his compatriot Rory McIlroy, the world number seven, who was crushed 8&7 by American Ben Crane.
"I can`t really get my head around that right now," McDowell said. "Ben Crane is a hell of a player but this golf course sets up for the Rory McIlroy-type driver of the ball. Ben Crane is not really known for length."
After being told that Crane had covered his 11 holes in seven under par, McDowell replied: "A hot putter can wear you out in match play. That`s probably the only thing I can say in Rory`s defence there."