Poulter progresses to second round

21/02/2013 22:07:00
Ian Poulter  (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter, winner in 2010, became the first European through to the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship following another long weather delay in the wintry Arizona desert.

After an incredible four inches of snow, plus a severe overnight frost, no play was possible until 1pm, but Poulter then saw off Scotland's Stephen Gallacher 2 and 1 to set up a last-32 clash with American Bo Van Pelt.

"I'm going to hit some balls," the Ryder Cup ace said. "It's been stop-start and I don't feel I have done enough work."

Gallacher, three down with six to play when they resumed, won the 14th and made a 15 foot birdie putt at the next.

But Poulter, playing his first tournament since the first week of January, had pitched to three feet there, made it for a half, then played a superb bunker recovery on the short 16th to maintain his advantage.

Winner of the Onega Dubai Desert Classic on his last start three weeks ago, Gallacher had a long-range chance to extend the game at the 17th, but missed.

Bo Van Pelt was the first player to register a victory, beating Australian John Senden 6 and 5, but Sergio Garcia had to go to the second extra hole before he got the better of Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee.

Garcia could have finished it with one shot today, but his 12 foot birdie attempt on the 16th raced six feet past and he missed the return to be only one up.

Jaidee then birdied the 18th from four feet and lipped out from nine feet when they went into sudden death, but Spain's 12th seed was on in two at the par five next and two putts for birdie proved good enough to give him a duel with American Ryder Cup player Matt Kuchar.

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 on to the Dove Mountain course near Tucson before the first snowstorm arrived.

With more sub-zero temperatures predicted for the coming nights, there now appears a real possibility the event will have to be extended to Monday for the first time in its 15-year history.

Lee Westwood stood three up on Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello at the turn, winning the long eighth with a two-putt birdie, but lost the tenth hole.

Having been four up after five, fifth seed Justin Rose was pulled back to all square with six to play by South Korean K J Choi while fellow Englishman Chris Wood trailed Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson by two after ten and Welshman Jamie Donaldson was three down to Dane Thorbjørn Olesen at the same stage.

In the first of the two all-Irish clashes - McIlroy versus Shane Lowry was still to come - Graeme McDowell led Padraig Harrington by one after five.

Rose was in danger of falling behind at the 15th, but holed from 15 feet and Choi missed from 12.

To his great relief, Rose then took the 17th as well without having to putt and so lined up a match with Ryder Cup teammate Nicolas Colsaerts, who had a superb 5 and 4 win over American Bill Haas.

Westwood was hauled back to only one up with six to play, while McIlroy drew first blood on the long second, but then his tee shot kicked into the lake on the next.

Lowry, however, followed him in and it was shared in bogey fours.

The first big shock was ninth seed Charl Schwartzel losing to US PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley, while Woods fell behind when his former Presidents Cup partner Charles Howell birdied the second.

Donaldson had pushed Olesen into second place in Abu Dhabi last month, but this time it was the Dane on top - he won 3 and 2 and will next face South African Tim Clark, who put out sixth seed Adam Scott.

Westwood, having bogeyed the short 12th, did it again at the 14th and that was all square with Cabrera Bello.

Scot Richie Ramsay started well against fourth seed Louis Oosthuizen and was one up after seven, but compatriot Paul Lawrie trailed American Scott Piercy by two and England's David Lynn stood three down after eight to US Open Champion Webb Simpson.

It was advantage Northern Ireland with McIlroy and McDowell establishing two hole leads, while 2011 champion Luke Donald lost the opening hole, but hit back to lead Marcel Siem by one after six.