Stenson battles past tenacious Blixt to reach semis

Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:00pm EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

ASH England (Reuters) - The apprentice made the sorcerer fight all the way before top seed Henrik Stenson scrambled a two-hole victory over fellow Swede Jonas Blixt at the Volvo World Match Play Championship on Saturday.

World number five Stenson next meets George Coetzee in the semi-finals after the South African, a late replacement this week for the injured Thomas Bjorn, produced a faultless eight-birdie display to sink U.S. Ryder Cup rookie Patrick Reed 2 & 1.

Dutchman Joost Luiten was also in sparkling form, cramming eight birdies into 13 holes to crush Spain's Pablo Larrazabal 6 & 5.

Luiten will play Finn Mikko Ilonen in Sunday morning's semis after he defeated European Ryder Cup debutant Victor Dubuisson by two holes in another match chock-full of birdies.

The 38-year-old Stenson grabbed the initiative on a grey, wet day at the London Club with five birdies in the first 11 holes taking him three up.

But the tenacious Blixt, 30, who is down in 58th spot in the world rankings, gave his compatriot a fright by claiming a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th to take the match down the par-five 18th.

Both men missed the green with their approach shots and a smiling Blixt shook hands with Stenson after failing to hole out from 25 feet.

"Everyone comes back at me," 2013 U.S. FedExCup champion Stenson told reporters. "Same with Thongchai Jaidee yesterday, no one let's me have an easy finish here.   Continued...