WGC Accenture World Match Play: Ian Poulter loses to Rickie Fowler in the first round
Last Updated: 20/02/14 6:46pm
Rickie Fowler: Got the better of his Ryder Cup adversary
Ryder Cup star and former champion Ian Poulter suffered his third first-round exit in four years from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday.
In the first match on the Dove Mountain course in Arizona, the Englishman fell behind Rickie Fowler at the fourth and was never ahead thereafter, going down 2&1.
After the opening three holes were halved, Fowler won three of the next four and needed only one birdie to do so, although 2010 champion Poulter then reduced his deficit with a birdie on the eighth.
A par on the 10th was enough for Fowler to move three up once again and although he gave the next hole back with a bogey six, a superb eagle on the par-five 13th - with Poulter in trouble over the green - restored a three-hole cushion.
In typical fashion Poulter refused to throw in the towel and won the 14th with a birdie from 18ft as Fowler missed from much closer, but further birdie chances went begging on the next three holes to seal his fate.
Fowler now will face in-form Jimmy Walker, who has already won three times in the 2014 PGA Tour season, after he secured the first victory of the day with a comfortable 5&4 win over South African Branden Grace.
McDowell edges through
Graeme McDowell joined Ryder Cup team-mates Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Peter Hanson in the last 32 thanks to an unlikely comeback against Gary Woodland.
McDowell was four down after seven holes and still three down with three to play but won the 16th with a par, the 17th with a birdie and was conceded the 18th when Woodland went from one greenside bunker to another.
Click here for the all the results from Wednesday's matches.
A birdie on the first extra hole then sealed victory over a shellshocked Woodland, with whom he had shared a private jet from Florida to Arizona.
"I missed a short one on 15 to follow him in for birdie and he looked unbeatable," McDowell admitted. "He hit a six iron all over the flag on the 16th and I thought my manager had a plane ticket booked for me and I was going home.
McIlroy had a comfortable 3&2 win over Boo Weekley to set up a last-32 clash with Harris English, who beat former world number one Lee Westwood 5&3.
Another former number one, compatriot Luke Donald, also made an early exit as he was thrashed 5&4 by Matteo Manassero.
Defending champion Matt Kuchar advanced to the second round, but only after having to win his match with Austria's Bernd Wiesberger twice.
Kuchar thought he had sealed a 5&4 win on the 14th, but had failed to move his ball marker back to its correct position before holing his birdie putt. That cost him the hole and meant the match continued, but the world number 10 still had a three-hole cushion and eventually won 3&2.
American trio fall
Finland's Mikko Ilonen had looked like creating a shock when he led Bubba Watson by two holes with six to play, but lost the next three holes and Watson - who claimed his first win since the 2012 Masters in the Northern Trust Open on Sunday - sealed a 2&1 win on the 17th.
Sweden's Jonas Blixt was the next man into the last 32 with a 2&1 win over former US PGA champion Keegan Bradley and South African George Coetzee saw off Steve Stricker 3&1.
Stricker's participation in the event had been in serious doubt until his brother underwent a successful liver transplant at the weekend.
Peter Hanson completed a 4&3 win over Dustin Johnson - the world number eight has now lost in the first round five times in the last six years - and will face Victor Dubuisson in the last 32 after he saw off Kevin Streelman 5&4.
The biggest margin of victory belonged to American Billy Horschel, who thrashed Welshman Jamie Donaldson 6&5, while Bill Haas beat Miguel Angel Jimenez 5&4 and Thomas Bjorn defeated Francesco Molinari 2&1.Including McDowell's, a total of five matches went to extra holes; Garcia needing 22 holes to get past Marc Leishman, Brandt Snedeker beating David Lynn on the 20th, Jason Dufner edging past Scott Stallings on the 19th and Ernie Els also seeing off Stephen Gallacher at the first extra hole.