Rachel Homan throws a stone during the WFG Masters in Okotoks, Alta. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Homan knocks off Muirhead to advance to Masters playoffs

October 28, 2016, 8:46 PM

OKOTOKS, Alta. — Rachel Homan’s title defence at the WFG Masters continues into the playoffs as the Ottawa skip clinched a spot in the quarterfinals on Friday night.

Team Homan held off Team Eve Muirhead 7-5 to advance with a 3-1 record in round-robin play and oust the Scottish squad (1-3) from contention.

Homan broke a 2-2 tie with a three-ender in the third and never relinquished the lead. It still came down to her final rock of the game, however. Homan was up one with hammer coming home in eight and faced two counters as she drew to the four-foot circle for shot rock.

Team Homan won seven titles last season — including three consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championships — and have picked up where they left off entering the Masters 2-for-2 in tour events.

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Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson is hanging on improving to a 2-2 record by taking a 6-3 set over Val Sweeting of Edmonton. Sweeting, the 2014 Masters winner, is out going winless with a 0-4 record.

In men’s division action, Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen made it into the playoffs winning 6-5 in an extra end following a fierce rally from David Murdoch of Scotland.

McEwen flew out of the gate with a three-ender in the first and stole one in the second for an early 4-0 lead. Murdoch (2-2) blanked three and his patience paid off taking two in four and stealing one in five to close within one. The 2014 Olympic silver medallist Murdoch limited McEwen to one in seven and added another deuce in eight to force the extra frame.

Murdoch will play reigning world champion Kevin Koe (2-2) in a tiebreaker after the Calgary crew topped Peter de Cruz of Switzerland 7-4.

De Cruz is done at 1-3.

Niklas Edin of Sweden has advanced with a 6-4 victory over the Mark Nichols-skipped Team Gushue of St. John’s, N.L. Both teams are through with 3-1 records.

NOTES: The WFG Masters is the first of seven events on the 2016-17 Pinty’s GSOC schedule. … The event is also the first of four majors in the series alongside the Boost National, Meridian Canadian Open and WestJet Players’ Championship. … The WFG Masters runs through to Sunday at Pason Centennial Arena with action continuing Friday at 7:30 p.m. MT right here at thegrandslamofcurling.com.