Fri, Feb 25, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Woods, Poulter and Stricker make exits on wild Arizona day

Reuters, MARANA, ARIZONA

Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and holder Ian Poulter made early exits as the opening round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship lived up to its reputation of wild unpredictability on Wednesday.

There were 14 upsets in all from the 32 matches at Dove Mountain’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, fulfilling world No. 1 Lee Westwood’s pre-tournament description of the first day as “one of the most exciting days of the year.”

Three-time champion Woods, striving to end a winless run of 15 months, was eliminated by 65th-ranked Dane Thomas Bjorn after 19 holes.

“I blew it,” the 14-time major winner said greenside after going out in the first round for a second time at this event. “I had a chance. I had all the momentum going down 18 and just gave it away.”

American world No. 8 Stricker, who claimed the 2001 Match Play title in Australia, was stunned by 17-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero 2 and 1.

Poulter, who beat fellow Englishman Paul Casey 4 and 2 in last year’s final to claim his first PGA Tour victory, was beaten by American Stewart Cink after 19 holes.

A tournament record eight matches went into extra holes, but three of the top four seeds ensured a measure of normalcy with comfortable victories on a day of dazzling sunshine, cool temperatures and gusting winds in the Arizona desert.

Top-seeded Briton Westwood never trailed in his match before beating 2007 champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden 3 and 2.

Second-ranked German Martin Kaymer completed a 7 and 6 demolition of South Korean Noh Seung-yul and fourth seed Phil Mickelson breezed past Australian Brendan Jones 6 and 5.

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