MARANA, Arizona — The often-unpredictable Match Play Championship more than lived up to its reputation in a topsy-turvy second round when the remaining top four seeds and defending champion were beaten at Dove Mountain on Thursday.
An event already minus Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelslon sent several of the world's best to an early exit.
Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy — seeded second through fifth entering the tournament — were among the day's losers. Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy was beaten by Colombian Camilo Villegas 2 and 1. Top-seeded Steve Stricker lost in Wednesday's first round.
The highest remaining seed was England's Paul Casey at No. 6. Casey, the runner-up a year ago who won the World Match Play Championship in England in 2006, swiftly dispatched Canadian Mike Weir, 5 and 4.
The field was narrowed to 16 for Thursday's third round on the sun-drenched desert course near Tucson. Woods, obviously, skipped the event because of his personal woes, and Mickelson begged off to go on vacation with his family.
If that didn't take enough luster off the event, news that Woods would make his first public statement on his sex scandal on Friday certainly did.
But despite the lower profile, the Match Play is proving to be a wide-open competition.
"Like you saw, Steve Stricker won two weeks ago and lost yesterday. So it's a crazy format," said American Nick Watney, who beat Westwood 2 and 1.
Westwood, another Englishman, came back from two down to pull even after 13 holes. Watney, in his first Match Play appearance, regrouped to win the par-4 14th and 15th with birdies to win 2 and 1.
Furyk and Kaymer both lost to South Africans.
A 13-time winner on the U.S. PGA Tour, Furyk was beaten by Charl Schwartzel 3 and 2. Germany's Kaymer also went down 3 and 2, to Tim Clark. McIlroy's match perhaps was the best of the day, with England's Oliver Wilson winning on the 20th hole.
After becoming the second No. 64 seed in the event's 12-year history to beat a No. 1 seed with his win over Stricker, England's Ross McGowan lost to Ryo Ishikawa of Japan 1-up.