Lee Westwood (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood may have finally ended his WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship hoodoo last year, but the World Number Eight expects few favours from Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello during the first round in Arizona on Wednesday.
The World Number Eight made 11 appearances at Dove Mountain without getting past the second round until his run to the semi-final last season, where he was eventually knocked out by World Number One Rory McIlroy.
Westwood is eager to avoid a return to the days of an early exit, but knows last year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner will be a formidable opponent.
“There are no weak players in this tournament and no easy matches,” said the 39 year old. “I played with Rafael a few weeks ago in Dubai in a challenge match.
“We were partners then playing foursomes and he was hitting a few good shots but hopefully won't do that tomorrow.
“Hopefully I'll hit all the good shots and win as many holes as possible and then hopefully pitch up on Thursday like I did last year, just play it one day at a time, one match at a time, and just hopefully try and keep progressing each day.”
Another player taking nothing for granted is former winner Ian Poulter.
The Ryder Cup star has a formidable match play record, but faces recent Dubai winner Stephen Gallacher in the first round.
“Steven Gallagher is in good form, the last event he played, he won,” said Poulter.
“He'll be full of confidence. I guess he's had a couple weeks off, but coming here full of confidence, ready to go.
“I guess I'm a marked man in some respects. It's an amazing format where you can go shoot five, six, seven under par and pack your bags and go home.
“There's always guys that go out in early stages that surprise people, or yet you can go out and just play some good golf.”