Thursday, February 24, 2011

Woods follows Poulter out of WGC-Match Play championship

Tiger Woods could drop to number eight in the world rankings following his first round loss at World Match Play Championships.

Woods follows Poulter out of WGC-Match Play championship

(CNN) -- Three-time winner Tiger Woods followed defending champion Ian Poulter out in the first round of the WGC Match Play Championship in Arizona.

Former World No. 1 Woods lost to Denmark's Thomas Bjorn on their first extra hole at the Dove Mountain course and could slip to as low as number eight in the rankings after his error-strewn defeat.

He managed to extend the match with a eight-foot birdie on the 18th, however, the 35-year-old then hit his tee shot from the first playoff hole into a bush on the side of course.

The American took two shots to recover from the mistake to card his fourth bogey of the match and all but hand victory to Bjorn.

Woods has gone over a year without a tournament win after his well-publicized off course problems and his attempts to remodel his swing.

England's Poulter also lost at the first extra hole to his American opponent Stewart Cink as the 2009 British Open champion made a birdie putt to wrap up an unlikely victory.

Poulter was two up through the turn but Cink made a series of lengthy putts to draw level again at the 17th hole when he made an impressive par-four despite finding two bunkers.
I really should have shut the match out. I missed my chances and I've been punished
--Ian Poulter
Tiger Woods
Ian Poulter
Lee Westwood
Matteo Manassero

The 35-year-old Poulter then missed his final chance to win on the 18th, allowing Cink to close it out in the playoff.

"I really should have shut the match out, to be honest with you. He putted me off the golf course," a disappointed Poulter told reporters.

"That's what you have to do in this format. I did it last year and managed to go all the way. I missed my chances and therefore I've been punished," he added.

World No.1 Lee Westwood avoided an upset as he beat 2007 champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden to progress to the second round of the tournament on Thursday.

Despite three bogeys in the first seven holes and seven overall, England's Westwood still managed to record a win over late reserve Stenson to set up a second round encounter with Nick Watney of the United States, who beat him last year.

In other results from day one, there was also success for Westwood's Ryder Cup teammates, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, who beat Heath Slocum and his fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIllroy, who put out Jonathan Byrd.

World No. 3 Phil Mickelson beat Brendan Jones, second-ranked Martyn Kaymer beat Noh Seung-Yul and South Africa's Ernie Els came back from three down after three to beat Jeff Overton at the 19th.

And World No. 8 Steve Stricker was stunned by 17-year-old Matteo Manassero -- who made history by becoming the youngest player to compete at the event -- after the Italian made a birdie put on the 17th.

"It's a big achievement for me," Manassero said. "I played really well. I achieved a victory against one of the best players in the world and a past champion."