KAVARNA, Bulgaria (Reuters) - Britain’s Graeme McDowell and South African Branden Grace set up a mouth-watering showdown in the semi-finals of the World Match Play Championship by winning on Saturday.
World number eight McDowell, the highest-ranked player in the field, avenged his defeat in last year’s final by easing past holder Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium 2 & 1.
Colsaerts was already trailing when his drive at the 10th hole found a hazard after flying over an on-course toilet.
To adhere to the rules he had to first drop his ball on the toilet floor before he was eventually given ‘relief’ from the immovable obstruction and he spared his blushes by pitching the ball on to the green and holing out from 15 feet for a par four.
“I was laughing because I was going to look like a clown,” Colsaerts told reporters. “I’m sure it’s going to make the news - some Belgian dude finding a toilet.”
McDowell said of his Ryder Cup team mate: “I was looking like going four up on the 10th and Nicolas literally made par from the toilet.
“It’s when the rules of golf get a bit funny and wacky and people watching will be wondering what’s going on but what a four he made.”
Earlier in the day the Northern Irishman put out American Bo Van Pelt by one hole.
Grace, who won four times on the European Tour last season, also scored a 2 & 1 win over Briton Chris Wood.
Earlier, Grace defeated Brett Rumford 4 & 3 to end the Australian’s dream of becoming the third man in tour history - and first since 1986 - to win three back-to-back events.
Sunday morning’s other semi-final will be between South African Thomas Aiken and Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee.
Aiken followed his quarter-final win over Ireland’s Shane Lowry at the 19th hole by putting out Italian Francesco Molinari 3 & 2.
Thongchai, 43, who put out Ryder Cup team mates Ian Poulter and Peter Hanson earlier in the competition, advanced with a 4 & 3 win over Briton Scott Jamieson.
“I’ve been playing very well all week,” said Thongchai. “I’m very confident with this format.”
Bulgaria is hosting a tour event for the first time after the tournament was moved from Spain.
The winner of the World Match Play, staged at the Black Sea resort of Thracian Cliffs, will collect 800,000 euros ($1.03 million).
Gary Player designed the spectacular course that has been described as the ‘Pebble Beach of Europe’, a reference to the championship links in California.
($1 = 0.7798 euros)
Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Tony Jimenez