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WGC Matchplay: Ian Poulter disappointed Rickie Fowler looking forward

By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH.   Last Updated: 20/02/14 1:41pm

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Tony Jacklin tells us where it all went wrong for Ian Poulter in round one.

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Ian Poulter admitted he deserved to lose his first round match at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship to Rickie Fowler, who admitted he relished playing the underdog.

In the first match out at Dove Mountain, former champion and Ryder Cup star Poulter suffered his third first round exit in four years in the competition, and was bitterly disappointed with his performance.

Fowler led from the fourth hole and survived a Poulter fightback to win 2&1, and the Englishman was fuming with his own play as he made a swift exit from the course.

"I gave him three holes and you just cannot do that," said Poulter. "I'm just really disappointed because I didn't put him under any pressure at all. I intend to get my backside out of here as quickly as I can."

"It's frustrating as I couldn't have worked any harder than I have in the last five weeks. I feel it's close, but it's not there."

Underdog

Fowler relished playing the underdog to Poulter, and will be boosted by the big win on the back of three missed cuts this year after making some changes to his swing.

"Poulter was obviously favoured," said Fowler. "I knew if I was picking a bracket and I was an outsider looking in, I probably would have picked Poulter.

"He's played well here and in match play. I went into it, I knew I was the underdog, I knew I had somewhat nothing to lose.

"I knew it was going to be a tough match. He wasn't playing great today but I knew he was going to find a way to hang around and give me something at the end. Obviously it feels good to get a win against him and I am excited for tomorrow."

The tough matches will keep coming for Fowler, who will face the in-form Jimmy Walker, with three wins already this season, in the next round.

"Jimmy Walker is hands down the best player in the world right now," said Fowler. "Him not being a one seed is kind of misleading. It's going to be a tough match.

Walker flying

"I know he's a great ball striker, he's been making a lot of putts and has a lot of confidence right now. I'm going to have to do the same thing. I'm going to have to strike the ball well, stay in every hole and roll in some putts tomorrow to have a chance.

"And going into it as an underdog, obviously, it would be nice to send him home and me go on. But we'll see how it plays out tomorrow."

Fowler is starting to reap the rewards of the swing changes he has made under the guidance of Butch Harmon, who he started working with full-time last November.

"I knew any sort of change is tough, it's going to take time," Fowler added. "The first time I hit balls with him was actually after I missed the cut at the Open Championship last summer, and I said, come take a look, tell me what you think.

"And obviously we ended up starting to work full time, back in November. But some of the stuff, just trying on the range there felt completely foreign. I felt like a hack on the range, I was fat and thinning them.

"So kind of interesting to think that I was headed the right direction doing that. And to where I am now. The golf swing feels really good. I feel like when I am when everything is clicking it's a lot more efficient."

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