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McDowell exacts revenge, advances to World Match Play semis

Graeme McDowell avenged last year's World Match Play Championship defeat on Saturday and advanced to the semifinals with a 2 & 1 victory over Nicolas Colsaerts.

Eliminated by Colsaerts in last year's title match and the 2011 quarterfinals, McDowell atoned at Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort and sent the reigning champ packing.

"I'm happy to get through and excited to be in the semifinals," said McDowell. "It's a very historic event and a trophy with a lot of legendary names on it. The golden years at Wentworth I remember watching a lot of my heroes win it and I would dearly love to add my name to the list."

A rematch was set up Saturday morning when Colsaerts prevailed over Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and McDowell ousted American Bo Van Pelt. The Northern Irishman carried the momentum into the afternoon showdown and jumped ahead by three in the early going before holding on for the win.

McDowell will face South African Branden Grace, who took down red-hot Brett Rumford in the morning, then dispatched Chris Wood, 2 & 1, in the quarterfinals.

Grace, who won four times on the European Tour in 2012, highlighted his round with three straight birdies from the fifth, and won the match when Wood 3- putted at the 16th and 17th.

"It's been a long day and I can't remember the last time I played 36 holes in a day," said Grace.

The other semifinal match pits Thomas Aiken against Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee. The former took down Italian Francesco Molinari, 3 & 2, while the latter dispatched Scott Jamieson, 4 & 3, in the quarterfinals.

"Thirty-six holes a day is definitely starting to take its physical toll," admitted Aiken. "I wish I was a little bit fitter, but I think if you can get through the match tomorrow morning you'll be extremely focused for the afternoon."

Jaidee has already defeated Aiken this week, taking down the Scotsman, 1-up, in Friday's second round.

Colsaerts appeared poised for another McDowell ousting when he birdied the par-4 third to go 1-up, but the Northern Irishman rallied with four birdies over the next five holes to gain an advantage he would not relinquish.

Around the turn, Colsaerts sent his drive into a bathroom on the short par-4 10th. The Belgian took a penalty drop, halved the hole, and then pulled within one courtesy of a birdie on No. 13 and a McDowell bogey on the next.

"I'm sure it's going to make the news, some Belgian dude dropping the ball in a toilet," joked Colsaerts. "It's fun to be recognized for stupid stuff like that."

That was the end of the run, however, as McDowell exacted his revenge with a winning birdie on the par-4 17th.

NOTES: McDowell is playing his first European Tour event of the year after posting four top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, including a victory at the RBC Heritage ... Rumford was coming off back-to-back victories at the Ballantine's Championship and China Open. He was looking to join Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros as the only players in European Tour history to win three consecutive events ... Ian Poulter, the 2011 champion and European Ryder cup hero, was eliminated on Friday. He won the WGC-Accenture Match Play title in 2010 ... The 24-man field was divided into eight groups of three players, with everyone playing two matches and the top two players from each group advancing to the single elimination matches on Saturday and Sunday.