Top seed Ernie Els eased his way through the opening round of the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship with a comfortable 4 and 2 victory over Greg Kraft at the Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne.
Among the 12 European Tour Members who progressed through to the second round was also Australian left-hander Nick O’Hern who overcame the number two seed Hl Sutton in the most dramatic match of the day.
O'Hern led by three with three to play, but lost them all before triumphing when Sutton, bunkered at the 21st, splashed out to five feet but missed.
It was a superb day for the Scots in Australia as 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie thrashed American Chris DiMarco 5 and 4 after reaching the 14th hole five under par. And in two of the three clashes between European Tour Members Gary Orr got the better of Paul McGinley with a 2 and 1 victory and Andrew Coltart ended Phillip Price’s interest in the championship with a 3 and 2 win.
Lawrie did not look back after collecting birdies at the third and fourth. He turned in 32 and five-up after picking up further shots at the sixth and eighth and won the 10th as well by making a 15-footer. DiMarco, a winner on the US Tour last season, did get two holes back, but had left himself far too much to do.
"I'm chuffed," said Lawrie, still seeking his first tournament victory since the Open at Carnoustie 18 months ago.
"I had a couple of ropey tee shots, but I made birdies off them and the rest of the time I played lovely."
McGinley suffered a nightmare start against Orr, losing five of the first six holes. Three of them were to Orr birdies to be fair, but on the long sixth McGinley was about to hit his third shot from the rough when his ball moved an inch.
"That's all you need when you're already four down," he said after calling a penalty shot on himself and losing the hole to a five.
Instead of caving in, though, he fought his way back to be only two down with three to go - and then, after a brilliant second shot to the 474-yard 16th, missed from three feet.
Orr was over the green at the next, but chipped to four feet and holed to take his place in the last 32 of an event offering a million dollars to the winner on Sunday.
Price was on his way back home to Newport within two hours of going out to Coltart.
He had the misfortune to go down with a flu-like virus on the eve of the $5million championship and said after losing: "I didn't have a lot of energy."
Price led by one after eight, but Coltart's 18-foot putt for a half there was vital and the Scot birdied six of the next eight and won when his opponent visited two bunkers at the 16th and failed to get up and down.
Lawrie will next face Zimbabwean Mark McNulty, who put out sixth seed Stewart Cink, while Orr's next task is a tough one against former Open champion Justin Leonard and Coltart plays ninth-seeded American David Toms.
New Zealand’s Michael Campbell, the number five seed was convincing in his 4 and 3 win over Swede Mathias Grönberg but other Swedes fared better with Volvo Masters champion Pierre Fulke overcoming Fred Funk 5 and 4 and Per-Ulrik Johnasson providing the best golf of the day in beating Steve Flesch 5 and 4. Johansson was ten under par for the round through 14 holes.
There was also success for Jean Van de Velde over Duffy Waldorf who faces Retief Goosen in the second round after the South African overcame Steve Lowery 2 and 1. Bob May defeated Tom Scherrer on the 17th.
But there were upsets as Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, the highest ranked European in the field of 64, crashed out to American Steve Stricker on the 17th and Bernhard Langer lost out to Hidemichi Tanaka. Argentina’s José Coceres was defeated by Brad Faxon while former Open champion Justin Leonard soundly beat Patrick Sjöland.First Round Scores