Wednesday, 23 March 2016
Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)

Charl Schwartzel got off to a winning start at the WGC-Dell Match Play as he beat Danny Lee by one hole at Austin Country Club.

The South African has enjoyed a brilliant season so far, winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Tshwane Open on home soil and has yet to finish outside the top 20 on The European Tour.

The attention this week switched to match play at the second World Golf Championships event of the season and while Schwartzel never trailed against Lee, the New Zealander put up a stiff challenge.

A par on the second moved the 2011 Masters Tournament champion ahead and while Lee levelled things up on the next, birdies on the fifth, sixth and ninth cancelled out another Lee gain on the eighth.

Lee birdies on the 11th and 12th levelled the contest and, although Schwartzel regained his lead on the 14th, a missed short putt on the 16th ensured the match would go all the way, with Schwartzel winning the 17th.

"At one stage I was playing really solid, and it was sort of felt like I was in control of the game," said Schwartzel. "Danny made a really good comeback.

It felt like we both started playing a little scrappy and just really hanging in there by the skin of our teeth. I'm just happy that I hit some good shots coming in - Charl Schwartzel

In the other Group 15 contest, Brandt Snedeker beat Charley Hoffman 2 and 1.

Thongchai Jaidee began his campaign with a win as he beat Paul Casey 2 and 1. Casey moved ahead on the fifth but Jaidee won the sixth, tenth, 11th and 14th before losing the 16th.

Graeme McDowell was two up in the early stages of his Group 2 match against Jason Day but fell 3 and 2 to the World Number Two.

A birdie on the third and concession on the fourth put McDowell in control but Day birdied the fifth, eighth and ninth to move ahead. A concession on the 11th and birdie on the 12th followed but Day had a late scare as he appeared to injure his back on the 16th.

In Group 10, Danny Willett and Jaco Van Zyl halved a nip-and-tuck contest in which neither man could open up more than a one-hole lead, with the South African getting back on level terms with a birdie on the 16th.

Brooks Koepka was also a winner in Group 10, overcoming fellow American Billy Horschel 3 and 2.

Justin Rose overcame a late scare in Group 7 to beat Argentina's Fabian Gomez by two holes.

The Englishman had been four up after 12 holes but Gomez won the 13th, 15th and 16th to take the contest down the last, where he conceded after hitting a poor chip with his third shot.

Matt Kuchar was the biggest winner of the day, beating Anirban Lahiri 6 and 5.

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