Notebook: Round 1 will need a third day to complete
PHOTOS: WGC-Accenture Match Play (Thursday)
Check out photos from the Round of 64 at the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Thursday in Marana, Ariz.
PHOTOS: WGC-Accenture Match Play (Wednesday)
Take a look at some photos from the snow that fell during the first round of matches at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday Feb. 20.
MARANA, Ariz. – Lost in the tremors of that shocking one-two punch – losses by both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods – is that the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship will need a third day to complete.
The 32nd and final first-round match will resume this morning at 9:30 a.m. local time with Francesco Molinari and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano all square standing on the 16th tee.
But the more intriguing resumption will come at the 18th tee, where Carl Pettersson is clinging to a 1-up lead over Rickie Fowler. While Charles Howell and Woods behind them and Shane Lowry and McIlroy ahead of them all chose to play on in darkness, Pettersson and Fowler declined.
“We figured we’ve been here forever, we might as well come back when we can see,” Pettersson said. “We’d been starting to guess some putts.”
Playing in this tournament for the first time since 2007, Pettersson has never trailed in the match and came agonizingly close to ending it at the 17th. Having birdied the par-3 16th to go 2 up, the personable Swede nearly ran a 40-footer into the hole, but it hit the flagstick and spun out. Seconds later, Fowler in falling darkness buried an 8-footer to cut the deficit in half.
With a flurry of action buzzing in and out of the clubhouse at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, there seemed to be people going in a dozen directions. Officials were hard to find, so many of them ushering Woods this way, McIlroy that way, and so Pettersson turned to Fowler and asked: “Are you absolutely sure we’re starting at 9:30?”
Fowler checked his phone, couldn’t find a text, but said that’s what he heard. Then he smiled and told Pettersson it shouldn’t be a problem “because we’ll have the whole course to ourselves.”
That’s not quite true, because Molinari and Fernandez-Castano will be on the 16th tee and at about the time those matches resume, second-round action will commence from the first tee.
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NO FINISHING KICKS: The World Golf Hall of Fame won’t be asking for the game film from these matches to showcase classic finishes:
• Lee Westwood birdied 15 to go 1 up on Rafael Cabrera-Bello, but bogeyed the 18th when he missed a 6-footer. Forced to extra holes, the seventh-seeded Englishman lost on the 19th hole when Cabrera-Bello rolled in a 12-footer.
• Despite being without a birdie (he did hole a 123-yard shot to eagle the par-4 10th), Keegan Bradley was all square with Marcus Fraser standing on the 17th green. But after the Aussie buried a 25-footer for birdie, Bradley missed his 8-footer. A birdie at 18 was needed, but Bradley drove into a bunker, hit his approach into the transitional area in front of the green, took a drop, and never threatened.
• Ernie Els birdied the 15th to stay tied with Fredrik Jacobson, but missed a 3-footer for par at 16 that would have put him 1-up. Having halved 17, Els three-putted from 32 feet at 18 to lose.
• Padraig Harrington birdied 13, 14 and 15 to get even with Graeme McDowell, but bogeyed 16 to fall behind. Needing a birdie at 18 to tie, Harrington drove it wide right and into the desert, hit his second shot into the jump short of the green, left the next one well short, and after a fat wedge shot, he conceded the hole and lost in the first round here for the fourth straight time.
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BUT HE SHOWED THEM HOW IT’S DONE: Luke Donald had his hands full with Marcel Siem, but showed the grit the helped him win this title two years ago.
Losing the 11th and 12th holes to go 1-down, Donald squared the match with a birdie at 13, then at the 17th he watched Siem bury a 20-footer. An emphatic fist pump seemed to signal great things for the German, but Donald cooly knocked down his 8-footer to stay tied.
At 18, Siem burned the cup with his 13-foot birdie try, after which Donald won the match with a birdie roll from just inside of 8 feet.
Donald, who is now 17-7 in the Accenture, will take on Scott Piercy, a 4-and-3 winner over Paul Lawrie.
Piercy conceded he was a bit out of sorts at times, having not played match play in about six years. “I had to think about what I was doing,” said Piercy, who won the first two holes and was 3-up at the turn.
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STRONG CONTINGENT, WEAK SHOWING: There was much to love about the group of South Africans who arrived, especially a young trio on the rise – Branden Grace, George Coetzee, and Richard Sterne. Throw in the Els, their national hero, and the formidable duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and the spirited Tim Clark and it was easy to be picking this crew to dominate the proceedings.
But come Friday, only Oosthuizen, Sterne and Clark will be teeing it up.
The good news is, Grace made five birdies, but he also made four bogeys and got run over by Robert Garrigus, 4 and 3. Garrigus was 4 under for his 15 holes.
Coetzee played rock-solid, two birdies and one bogey for 17 holes, but Martin Kaymer had an eagle and four birdies to win, 2 and 1.
Schwartzel was part of the day’s biggest shocker – at least until McIlroy and Woods fell. He didn’t make his first birdie until the 15th hole, by which time he was 2 down to Russell Henley. But Schwartzel couldn’t win another hole and lost in the first round for the first time in five appearances here.
Els’ woes at 18 added to the South African heartache, but there was good news when Oosthuizen rallied from 2-down to win the 12th, 13th, and 14th holes and get past Richie Ramsay.
Clark’s win came at the expense of good friend Adam Scott, who continues to struggle in this championship. Though Clark made just two birdies, Scott bogeyed both 16 and 17 to lose.
Sterne provided perhaps the most surprising effort of the day for the South Africans, beating Jason Dufner, 1 up.
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WARNING SIGNS: Bad enough that Dustin Johnson seems to be struggling with his game, but it didn’t help that he ran into a dynamo named Alex Noren. Though Johnson birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th holes, he was still 5 down because Noren birdied seven times in 13 holes.
Noren’s 6-and-4 win was quite a different story from his only other visit, in 2010. That year he lost 7 and 5 to Geoff Ogilvy.
Johnson, meanwhile, is spinning in the wrong direction. Since winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions to open the season he has withdrawn from the Sony, finished T-51 at Torrey Pines, missed the cut at Pebble Beach and Riviera, and now this, his fourth first-round loss in five trips to Dove Mountain.
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SHORT SHOTS: Since this championship moved to Dove Mountain in 2007, Scott is 2-7, having lost in the first round five times . . . . . John Senden failed to make a birdie in his 13 holes against Bo Van Pelt . . . . . Van Pelt had one of the two 6-and-5 wins. The other belonged to Jason Day over Zach Johnson . . . . . If Nick Watney (a 5-and-4 winner over David Toms) is to advance to the third round for a fourth straight time, he’ll have to get past Steve Stricker. Playing 14 holes in 1 under, Stricker whipped Henrik Stenson, who bogeyed four times in seven holes, by a 5-and-4 margin . . . . . Stenson, a former Accenture champ, has lost four straight times in the first round . . . . . Chris Wood was 4 over for his first seven holes against Bubba Watson, 5 under for his next 10. Watson held on for a 2-and-1 victory and will face Jim Furyk in the second round . . . . . Furyk won four straight holes starting at the eighth and beat Ryan Moore, 4 and 2.