No. 3 Ben Hogan bracket seed Ian Poulter falls behind early as No. 14 seed Rickie Fowler earns the first three holes won, then maintains his lead and holds off a late run from the 2010 champion here at the WGC-Accenture Match Play’s first round.
We’ll keep you posted on the highlights of the Poulter vs. Fowler match right here – and scroll down for our preview coverage.
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Hole No. 17: Par 4, 482 yards
Poulter has done a solid job of staying in this match with halves at the last two holes, followed by a terrific drive and approach to inside 10 feet and birdie range here. Fowler also gives himself a birdie look, but it slides by on the right – and Poulter, after giving his must-make putt a close look, misses high and left. This one is over, despite Poulter’s tenacity.
FOWLER WINS, 2 & 1
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Hole No. 14: Par 4, 449 yards
A big putt from Poulter gets him a needed birdie to close his deficit down a bit and keep his hopes alive with four to play after Fowler misses his birdie try.
THRU 14 HOLES: Fowler, 2 up
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Hole No. 13: Par 5, 583 yards
After trading pars at the par-3 12th, Poulter finds trouble at the 13th and Fowler wins a hole that could prove critical. With five to play, the American is ahead by three as the Englishman tries to find some magic.
THRU 13 HOLES: Fowler, 3 up
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Hole No. 11: Par 5, 659 yards
For the second straight par 5, Poulter gets a much-needed birdie to keep Fowler from leading by three. That’s the form the Englishman will need the rest of the way, unlike his three bogeys in the previous five holes, if he’s to avoid an upset here.
THRU 11 HOLES: Fowler, 2 up
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Hole No. 10: Par 4, 493 yards
After trading pars at the ninth, Fowler reclaims a margin of three to start the back nine – thanks to Poulter’s third bogey of the day. With eight to go, Poulter has a big hill to climb if he is to advance.
THRU 10 HOLES: Fowler, 3 up
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Hole No. 8: Par 5, 576 yards
Poulter gets a much-needed birdie at this par-5 while Fowler manages par, which gets Poulter back in the mix before the turn. The No. 3-seeded Englishman reached the semifinals last year in finishing fourth, so a heavy loss would be a surprise indeed.
THRU EIGHT HOLES: Fowler, 2 up
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Hole No. 7: Par 4, 486 yards
Fowler’s second birdie of the day gives him his third hole won – there’s still a lot of golf to be played, but a lead like this at the turn could force Poulter into aggressive decision making.
THRU SEVEN HOLES: Fowler, 3 up
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Hole No. 6: Par 3, 185 yards
Fowler makes par at the second par-3 hole of the day, then watches as Poulter can’t match it. The Oklahoma State product’s three straight missed cuts seem a distant memory right now as he doubles his lead.
THRU SIX HOLES: Fowler, 2 up
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Hole No. 4: Par 4, 393 yards
Fowler’s birdie here, with Poulter’s par, gives the young American an early advantage. He’s not as far behind Poulter in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, which favor recent performance, as he is in the OWGR.
THRU FOUR HOLES: Fowler, 1 up
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Hole No. 3: Par 3, 208 yards
After trading birdies at the par-5 second hole, Poulter and Fowler get back to making pars to remain even. Should be interesting to see if the first win comes by making birdie or watching the other make bogey.
THRU THREE HOLES: All Square
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Hole No. 1: Par 4, 460 yards
Poulter and Fowler each card par at this long par-4 to get the day started All Square. Poulter has 41 spots on Fowler in the OWGR, but Fowler gets a clean slate for the next 17 holes.
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- OWGR Rank: 15
- Golfweek/Sagarin Rank: 33
- 2014 PGA Tour results: 2nd, WGC-HSBC Champions; T-47, Farmers Insurance Open; Cut, Waste Management Phoenix Open; T-59, Northern Trust Open
- Match Play results (since 2009): 4th (2013); T-33 (2012); T-33 (2011); Won (2010); T-9 (2009)
- Comments: Hasn’t played well as of late, but Poulter is the King of Match Play, with his win in 2010, not to mention his heroics at the Ryder Cup. Poulter should always be a favorite at match-play events.
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- OWGR Rank: 56
- Golfweek/Sagarin Rank: 51
- 2014 PGA Tour results: T-19, CIMB Classic; T-55, HSBC Champions; T-33, Humana Challenge; MC, Farmers Insurance Open; MC, Waste Management Phoenix Open; MC, Northern Trust Open
- Match Play results (since 2009): T-33 (2013); T-33 (2012); T-9 (2011)
- Comments: Fowler has fallen 16 spots in the OWGR since the start of the year and he’s been working on some swing changes with Butch Harmon, but you still can’t count him out in Match Play.
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Match Play preview coverage
The Golf Club at Dove Mountain is certainly fun to watch from home. And with match play, just about anything can happen, especially on this dramatic, rugged Jack Nicklaus-designed course in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountain Range just north of Tucson, Ariz. See photos and a strategic description of all 18 holes.
Henrik Stenson will enter this week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship as the top seed, a year after his won the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai. Meanwhile, last year’s champ Matt Kuchar is coming off his first missed cut in nearly 18 months as 61 of the top 67 players in the world will play at Dove Mountain. Here’s a look at each player in the field.
Bubba Golf is back in vogue. Bomb it, find it, wedge it, putt it. That has worked so well lately that Bubba Watson finds himself high on the current Hot Golfer List, having won (Northern Trust Open on Sunday) and finished second (Waste Management Phoenix Open) in his last two PGA Tour starts. Hence, Watson comes to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship as a scary draw, if there is such a thing in the unpredictable culture of 18-hole match play.
The field is stacked and this is truly the “anything-can-happen” tournament of the year, as match play seems to even the playing field in golf. With Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott taking the WGC-Accenture Match Play off, a bit of intrigue might be lost, but the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter should provide some drama worth watching.
Rory McIlroy tops the list of odds to win this week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, with Dustin Johnson and Jason Day not far behind. McIlroy is listed at 12/1 to win the tournament, with Johnson and Day at 15/1.
Ian Poulter will have a little bit of experience on his side Wednesday, with another early-morning tee time in the this World Golf Championship. Although afternoon temperatures are predicted to be in the 80s, the early-morning groups will probably start out in sub-50 weather, so if there is cold anywhere, Poulter’s match against Rickie Fowler will have it. And it’s an intriguing match right out of the gates, as Poulter clearly has a fondness for this championship.