Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee delivered the biggest surprise in defeating match-play specialist Ian Poulter on the first day of the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Kavarna on Thursday.
Thongchai fought back from being two down earlier in his match against last year’s European Ryder Cup winning star to claim the match 3-and-2 with a birdie at the 16th hole on the spectacular Thracian Cliffs course.
“It was a very solid day for me today after the start where I lost a couple of holes with poor concentration,” Thongchai said.
“I had played well in the Pro-Am but then I was very worried when Ian birdied the first three holes.”
Poulter, who had raced to 2-up after three holes, had complained of stomach cramps on the course but refused to dwell on any illness after putting a ball over the cliff top at the fourth hole and then taking a double bogey on 14 before losing the match on 16 to a Thongchai birdie.
“I’m feeling alright,” he said when asked about any illness. “I made a few mistakes and just handed too many holes to Thongchai.”
In the other shock on day one of the 3 million euro (US$3.85 million) event, defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts was beaten 4-and-3 by South African Branden Grace.
“I didn’t think I played that good and that’s just pure and simple,” Colsaerts said.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, and the highest world-ranked player in the field at No. 8, also recorded the biggest victory in defeating England’s Chris Wood five and three.
McDowell, who lost to Colsaerts in last year’s final, was 3-up after eight holes and while he lost the 12th, he closed the match winning the 13th, 14th and 15th holes.
“To get this win under the belt today is very important as it really eases the pressure off me going into tomorrow,” McDowell said.