Donald strikes first in all-European battle

3/19/2010 3:02:38 PM
WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship - Preview Day Two  (Getty Images)
WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship - Preview Day Two (Getty Images)

England’s Luke Donald took a two hole lead over Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell as the first round of the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship got underway in Arizona.

Donald, runner-up at the US PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles two weeks ago, pitched to three feet for a winning opening birdie, but after he and McDowell had both got up and down from the same greenside bunker for birdies on the long second the 208 yard third was won with a bogey four.

Pushing his tee shot led to Donald finding the lake and he ran up a double bogey five before the next two holes were shared in pars.

Donald regained the lead with a six footer for a birdie two on the sixth and doubled his advantage by pitching to two feet at the 576 yard eighth.

Ian Poulter, meanwhile, matched Donald's double-birdie start and for him it meant a two up lead over former Open Championship winner Justin Leonard.

But the gap was back to one when the American sank a 25 footer at the third.

Leonard sank another long putt, this time from 22 feet, to level with Poulter on the fourth and Rory McIlroy was quickly in trouble when Kevin Na went two up after three.

First the American eagled the second thanks to a spectacular approach to five feet and then 20 year old fourth seed McIlroy, a quarter-finalist last year, followed Donald into the water at the next and also double bogeyed.

First of the 25-strong European contingent into action was Swede Peter Hanson, but he lost two of the first three to Australian Robert Allenby before having his first success at the short sixth.

Oliver Wilson shared the first two holes with Miguel Angel Jiménez, while Paul Casey, runner-up to Geoff Ogilvy 12 months ago, needed only a par four on the first to go ahead against Canada's Stephen Ames.