Play underway in Tucson

21/02/2013 20:39:00
Players warm up on the range  (Getty Images)
Players warm up on the range (Getty Images)
After an incredible four inches of snow in the Arizona desert - plus the added problem of frost - the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship finally had its first winner.

Almost 30 hours after the event began American Bo Van Pelt beat Australian John Senden 6 and 5 and had to wait to see if it was 2010 winner Ian Poulter or Scot Stephen Gallacher he played next.

Less than four hours' play had been possible on the opening day and 20 of the 64 players, including top seeds Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald, did not even make it onto the Dove Mountain course near Tucson before the first snowstorm arrived.

A second one came during a freezing cold night and as greenkeeping staff battled with the wintry conditions on their early morning return the planned restart kept being put back, eventually stretching to lunchtime.

Sergio Garcia, who hit the first shot of the tournament at 7.20am yesterday, returned to the 16th green at 1pm two up and had the chance to finish things off straightaway with a 12 foot birdie putt.

Far from holing it, the 12th seed sent it six feet past and he missed that as well to go back to only one ahead of Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee.

Next man through to the last 32 was another American, Matt Kuchar. He got the better of Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita 3 and 2, while Garcia had to get up and down from just short of the 17th green to keep his nose in front.

Jaidee then fired in his approach to the last to four feet and holed it for a birdie that took the match into extra holes.

Poulter could not finish Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner Gallacher off as quickly as he hoped, making a mess of the 14th to be only two ahead, while Justin Rose, who had been four up after five on South Korean K J Choi, bogeyed the tenth on the resumption to be just one in front.

Jaidee almost eliminated Garcia on the 19th, lipping out from nine feet, while Gallacher sank a curling 15 foot birdie putt on the 15th, but it was only for a half as Poulter had pitched to three feet.

The Englishman then bunkered his tee shot to the next, but came out to a foot and remained two up, now with only two to go.

Compatriot Chris Wood resumed all square with Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson and after bogeying the seventh was favourite to win the long next. However, the American chipped in for eagle, Wood missed and when he bogeyed again on the ninth the gap was three.

That became Lee Westwood's advantage over Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello when he two-putted the eighth for birdie, but Rose thinned a bunker shot at the 12th and found himself all square.