Westwood and McIlroy set up semi

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

First published in National Sport © by

Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy will go head-to-head in the semi-finals of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson - and the reward for the winner at the end of the day could be the world number one spot.

Westwood reached the last four with a polished error-free 4&2 victory over Scot Martin Laird minutes after 22-year-old McIlroy, capable of golf most people only dream about, beat Korean Bae Sang-moon on the same green.

The two Ryder Cup team-mates - stablemates too until McIlroy made what Westwood called a "bizarre decision" to leave the camp last October - both need to take the title to oust Luke Donald at the top of the rankings.

Americans Hunter Mahan and Mark Wilson meet in the other semi-final, Mahan demolishing compatriot Matt Kuchar 6&5 and Wilson maintaining his record of not needing to play the last two holes yet by seeing off Swede Peter Hanson 4&3.

Arizona-based Glaswegian Laird became the first player to take the lead against Westwood when he rolled in a six-foot birdie putt on the first.

But Laird, who came into the week ranked 40th, bogeyed the sixth, seventh, ninth and 10th - all with bogeys after missing the greens - to be in deep trouble at three down.

Westwood handed one back by three-putting the long next after finding the green in two, but Laird's three attempts to get out of a bunker on the 14th gave him a mountain to climb and Westwood was in no mood to let him back in.

McIlroy began in style with a birdie, but was in the lake at the third and with eight to play was again all square.

It was then that he showed his class, making birdies at the 11th and 13th - both par fives - and another on the driveable 15th when he chipped to two feet.

"For the most part I felt I played pretty well," said the US Open champion. "I hit a couple of loose drives, but apart from that I thought it was some of my best golf of the week. You really have to try to control your ball flight and pick your spots on the greens."

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