February 22 2013
MARANA, Ariz. -- This match was extremely well-played and it seemed somewhat fitting that neither Graeme McDowell nor Alexander Noren held more than a 1-up advantage.
The two exhanged wins with birdies on the first three holes before McDowell squared the match with a par at No. 4. The Northern Irishman won the sixth hole when he drained a 24-footer for birdie to go 1 up and held that lead until he made double bogey at the par-5 13th -- finding the greenside bunker, the desert, where he had to take a drop, and another bunker on the way to that 7.
The 2010 U.S. Open champion was able to shake off that frustration, though, when he birdied No. 14 but Noren answered with one of his own to square the match on the next hole. The Swede then rolled in a 7-footer for birdie to take just his second lead of the day at No. 17 but McDowell sent the match to extra holes with his clutch 4-footer at the 18th.
Noren got up and down from beside the green on the first extra hole to halve with McDowell who two-putted for par from 33 feet.
The Northern Irishman then polished Noren off with a 7-foot birdie putt on the 20th hole after the Swede couldn't capitalize despite getting a free drop in the desert when a TV tower was in his line of sight.
"I hit it inside him most of the day, but he was really hot with the putter, made everything he looked at pretty much and hit a lot of great shots," McDowell said. "It was a tough game. I had to play decent just to hang onto him."
SCORECARD STATS: McDowell made seven birdies and one double bogey in 20 holes. Noren made six birdies and three bogeys.
HOLES WON: McDowell won six holes. Noren won five holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Shane Lowry, who beat Carl Pettersson 6 and 5.