Eight European Tour members have so far successfully progressed to the second round of the World Golf Championships – Andersen Consulting Match Play at La Costa, California with Colin Montgomerie and Thomas Bjorn still to complete their first round matches after play was suspended due to torrential rain.
Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Reteif Goosen, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Paul Lawrie, José Maria Olazábal, and Lee Westwood all moved into the last 32 to keep their hopes of a $1 million first prize very much alive. In the two matches left out on the course both European’s hold the upper hand with Montgomerie one up with two to play against Dennis Paulson and Björn two up playing the 17th against Glen Day.
But while the majority moved ahead unscathed, four European Tour Members bowed out. The match between Tiger Woods and Michael Campbell, the leaders of the US Tour Money List and Volvo Order of Merit respectively, was the pick of the first round ties but it was the American who triumphed, playing the first 14 holes in four under par to win by five and four. Argentina’s Angel Cabrera was defeated 4 and 3 by World Number Two, David Duval, and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington was beaten on the 17th by Ryder Cup team-mate Jesper Parnevik. The other casualty of the first round was Bernhard Langer, beaten 2 and 1 by Els.
Those players in the second round now face another tough examination. Retief Goosen, fifth in last season’s Volvo Order of Merit, faces Woods in the second round after overcoming Stewart Cink by a 4 and 2 winning margin. After beating former US PGA champion Paul Azinger two and one Clarke finds himself up against 1998 Open and Masters champion Mark O'Meara. Westwood will be hoping to follow up his victory over Brandt Jobe by overcoming Scott Hoch, while Open champion Lawrie now faces Billy Mayfair after beating Chris Perry on the last green.
What pleased debutant Lawrie most was his putting. It is the department of the game which has been troubling him most lately, but he found the target from 20, 12 and 15 feet at crucial times in seeing off Perry.
"I learnt from playing with Monty at the Ryder Cup last year that when you miss a green you have to give yourself a chance, whether it's from 20 feet or five.
"You don't get fancy and leave the ball in the rough or bunker."
Masters champion Olazábal fought back from two down after seven holes to beat Craig Parry on the final hole and now faces former Open champion Mark Calcavecchia. Jiménez, runner-up in the last World Golf Championship event at Valderrama, defeated Brent Geiberger to progress to a tie with Tom Lehman, an impressive 6 and 4 winner over last year’s finalist Andrew Magee. The third Spaniard in the field, Sergio Garcia, looked to have committed a mistake at the second extra hole against Loren Roberts after finding the rough. But the American then took four from the edge of the green to lose a match he looked like winning.
Els, after a hard-earned 2 and 1 victory over Langer, now faces Bob Estes while Montgomerie, if he completes the job against Paulson, faces either Björn or Day as his second round opponent.
Already some of the big names are out. Vijay Singh, Nick Price, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Fred Couples were all toppled on the opening day and so were the four men who did best last year - winner Jeff Maggert, beaten finalist Magee and losing semi-finalists John Huston and Steve Pate.