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Shane Lowry keeps right on rolling at Match Play

Saturday - 2/23/2013, 2:02pm  ET

Ireland's Shane Lowry walks off the third green after putting during the second round against Sweden's Carl Pettersson during the Match Play Championship golf tournament, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, in Marana, Ariz. Lowry won 6 and 5. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

AP Golf Writer

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) -- Shane Lowry said it would be one of the great days of his career if he were to beat Rory McIlroy in the Match Play Championship.

He just didn't want that to be the end of his week.

Lowry became a footnote in the 15-year history of this most fickle golf tournament on Friday when he became the first No. 64 seed to make it into the third round. It's difficult enough to knock off the No. 1 player in the world. The difficult part is to come back to earth and keep playing golf, and the Irishman did that with a game that was as brilliant as the sunshine on Dove Mountain.

He made five birdies in 13 holes, the last one carrying him to a 6-and-5 win over Carl Pettersson.

"I went out for dinner with the lads, my caddie and a few other guys, and I found it quite hard to sleep last night," Lowry said. "I was on such a high. There was people, lots of phone calls and texts and stuff. But I managed to get to sleep and get a few hours.

"Got up this morning, spoke to my coach for quite a while on the phone and just reminded myself that it was only the first round. The second round is today and just go out and look forward to it and enjoy every minute of it, and that's what I did."

Two days after dispatching one Irish friend, Lowry gets another Saturday morning.

Next up is Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who is in the same management stable as Lowry. McDowell, Lowry and McIlroy had dinner together Tuesday night at a rustic outpost called Lil Abners Steakhouse, and they planned to go back Thursday night -- minus McIlroy, who is back in Florida.

And if he were to take down McDowell, Lowry could even do damage to yet another Irishman. Lowry needed to win two matches Saturday to move into the top 50 in the world and qualify for the next World Golf Championship at Doral in two weeks, though that would mean bumping Padraig Harrington out of the top 50.

It's a lot to digest, even with his appetite.

McDowell was happy just to get to Saturday after watching Alex Noren of Sweden turn in a terrific putting performance, including an 8-foot slider on the 17th hole to take the lead. McDowell answered with a 9-iron into 4 feet for birdie on the 18th, and then he won in 20 holes when Noren couldn't escape from the desert.

"If Rory didn't intimidate him, I suppose what chance do I have?" McDowell said. "It's going to be a great match. He's a quality player. We practiced together this week. I took the money in practice. Hopefully, I can continue that role tomorrow."

The Match Play Championship is the most exciting two days in golf, though it slows with each round as half the field is eliminated.

In this case, most of the stars are already gone.

One day after McIlroy and Tiger Woods went home, more top seeds followed Friday when golf's most unpredictable tournament served up another reminder that the only time the word "upset" should be used is to describe the guys who are no longer playing.

Luke Donald, the No. 3 seed who is regarded among the best in match play, suffered his worst loss in 25 matches at this tournament. Louis Oosthuizen (No. 4) and Justin Rose (No. 5) never even reached the 17th tee when it was time for them to leave.

When another wild day ended at Dove Mountain, Masters champion Bubba Watson was the last man standing among the top 10 seeds.

"This game ... it's a toss-up," Watson said after going 22 holes to beat Jim Furyk. "You can't really judge who's going to win, or bet who's going to win. It really means nothing, is what I'm saying."

At least he's still playing, even though he made it hard on himself.

Watson missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have won the match. He missed another 5-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole. He had to stand to the side of the green as Furyk stood over a 12-foot putt to win the match. Given new life, Watson finally advanced to the third round.

It was the first time since this World Golf Championship began in 1999 that only one top-10 seed was remaining after two rounds.

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