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Westwood and McIlroy stay on course to claim world No. 1 spot

updated 10:55 AM EST, Sat February 25, 2012
Lee Westwood continued his impressive form in Arizona with a 3&2 win over Nick Watney.
Lee Westwood continued his impressive form in Arizona with a 3&2 win over Nick Watney.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood into last eight of WGC World Match Play event
  • Victory for either will see them take over as World No.1 Sunday
  • Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan to meet in all-American quarterfinal
  • Martin Laird wins all-Scottish clash with Paul Lawrie

(CNN) -- Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood scored convincing third round victories at the WGC World Match Play Championship in Arizona Friday to maintain their hopes of claiming the No. 1 ranking spot this weekend.

Ranked second and third respectively, victory for either man in the first World Golf Championship tournament of the season will see them leapfrog England's Luke Donald at the top.

U.S. Open champion McIlroy beat Ryder Cup colleague Miguel Angel Jimenez 3&1 at Dove Mountain, while Westwood marched into the quarterfinals with a 3&2 victory over Tiger Wood's conqueror Nick Watney.

Watney found the Englishman in fine form as Westwood gained revenge for successive defeats to the American at the last two stagings of the event near Tucson.

It was the first time Westwood has made the weekend play at the tournament, although he has a fine match play record for Europe in the Ryder Cup.

"I knew it was going to be a tough match against Nick. He's knocked me out the last two years," Westwood told Sky Sports.

"It was nice to not make that hat trick and to win and get through to tomorrow.

Westwood is on course for a semifinal showdown with McIlroy, but first he must get past Martin Laird, who beat fellow Scotsman Paul Lawrie 3&1.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy meets South Korean Bae Sang-Moon, who continued his surprise passage with a 1 up win over Australian John Senden in the day's final match.

Three Americans have taken their place in the quarterfinals with Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan set to battle for a place in the last four.

Kuchar thrashed Germany's defending champion Martin Kaymer 4&3 while Mahan dispatched veteran compatriot Steve Stricker by the same margin.

Mark Wilson was the third home player to make the last eight as he saw off big-hitting Dustin Johnson 4&3.

Wilson will next play Sweden's Peter Hanson, who comfortably won 5&3 against another American, Brandy Snedeker.

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