Michael Hoey loses quarter-final to Thai Aphibarnrat
Northern Irish golfer fades on back nine at Paul Lawrie Match Play
Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland tees off on the par four 6th hole in his match against Gregory Havret of France during the third round of the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay at Murcar Links Golf Course. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat came from three down after four holes to end Michael Hoey’s involvement in the inaugural in the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay in Aberdeen.
Hoey had needed just 12 holes to beat France’s Gregory Havret in his last 16 match on Saturday morning and three birdies in his first four holes put him three up and possibly looking at a second early finish on the day.
Aphibarnrat, though had other ideas and he won the next two holes with a par and a birdie to reduce the deficit to just one after six holes.
Hoey gave himself a two-hole cushion going into the back nine when he birdied the ninth, but his Thai opponent got one back with a birdie on the 11th.
It would be the last birdie between the pair, Hoey struggling on the back nine as Aphibarnrat won holes with pars at the 13th, 14th and 16th to go two up before wrapping up the game with a par on the 17th.
The big Thai golfer will now meet second seed Marc Warren after the Scot overcame an injury scare and one of the most bizarre matches of his career to keep hopes of a home victory alive at Murcar Links.
Warren needed on-course treatment for a back problem before recovering from three down to beat England’s Tyrrell Hatton by holing his second shot to the 19th hole of their quarter-final for an eagle two.
Minutes earlier Hatton had chipped in for birdie on the 18th to take the match into extra holes, only for Warren’s approach from 59 yards to take one bounce and dive into the hole.
“It was one of the most bizarre games I have ever been involved in,” Warren said. “It started on the first with poor tee shots from both of us into a bunker and he ended up holing out from 100 yards for a birdie.
“He had two other chip-ins after that and I guess on the 19th it was my turn. The match was bizarre from start to finish with holed shots, lost balls, good golf and terrible golf, so I think it was fitting to finish like that.”
Warren, who will move back into the world’s top 50 on Monday and therefore make his debut in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational next week, was three down after five but had just reduced his deficit on the sixth when he needed treatment from the European Tour physio.
“It’s a niggling muscle spasm down the side of my shoulder blade and I could feel it getting tighter the first few holes,” Warren added. “The physio barely laid his hands on me and my back started cracking.
“I was actually hoping for a bit of massage but he instantly said there was a blockage, there must have been four or five cracks and instantly it felt as if I was a little bit freer.”
The other semi-final will see David Howell take on former Ryder Cup team-mate Robert Karlsson after the pair enjoyed victories over Chris Wood and Richie Ramsay respectively.
Karlsson, who had missed the cut in his previous six events, holed from 50 feet for birdie across the 16th green to take the lead for the first time and chipped in for a par on the 17th to stay in front before closing out the match on the last.
“A couple weeks ago I didn’t really want to come here,” former European number one Karlsson said. “I thought it would be better to go home and practice but I thought maybe a match play tournament could help me because it frees you up a bit more and if you hit two or three bad shots you are not carrying them with you the rest of the week.
“When you get in these sort of runs it breaks you down mentally, especially when you have been out here for 25 years, and the way I have played the last few weeks I kind of looked at flights back to Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon.
“I played terrible in the pro-am and did not sniff making a birdie but match play is a different thing and it’s great to be in this position.”
Aberdeen-born Ramsay was philosophical in defeat, adding: “I didn’t play my best but I would say he won it. I didn’t give it away. I’m not really too bothered, to be honest, about losing.
“I know that sounds funny but when things like that happen I can’t control what he’s doing – I can only control what I’m doing. (Saturday) afternoon was just one of those ones that wasn’t to be. The fairytale wasn’t there.”
Howell was two down after four to Wood but birdied the fifth and ninth and holed out from 58 yards on the 11th for an eagle on his way to a 5&4 victory.
The 40-year-old has finished second three times this season and admitted he was not sure if he could cope with the demands of a possible six rounds in four days.
“We talked about that before deciding to play here this week and this is my sixth week in a row as well,” Howell said. “But I’m feeling good. My physio has been keeping me in great shape of late and I’ve been working out. I might be 40, and I do feel it, but I’m doing well anyway.”