Graeme McDowell got his Volvo World Match Play bid off to the perfect start with a clear cut 5 and 3 win over England’s Chris Wood at the spectacular Thracian Cliffs and Beach Resort in Bulgaria.
The 2010 US Open champion produced the biggest win of the first series of eight matches in the round robin group stage, as he looks to build on his win in the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage just two weeks ago.
Set for next week’s BMW PGA at Wentworth before returning to Europe for the Irish Open, the French Open and The Open, the Portrush man will be thriugh the knockout stages before tomorrow afternoon’s match with Stephen Gallacher if the Scot loses to Wood in the morning.
“To get the win under the belt today is very important as it really kind takes the pressure off going into tomorrow,” said McDowell. “I played solid today and I really enjoy this golf course.
“It’s very fiery, very linksy and suits my style of play, so I was happy the way I hit the golf ball today and I am starting to get my head around these greens and looking forward to some more good golf tomorrow.”
McDowell went one up when he chipped dead to win the par three second in par before taking the seventh with a 15 foot birdie putt and the par-three eighth in par to go three up.
He lost the 12th to a birdie four but took the 13th in par to restore his three up lead, pitched to six feet for a winning birdie four at the 14th and then took the 15th in birdie to close out the match.
On a day that also featured victories for Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Carl Pettersson, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace and Peter Hanson, the most surprising result saw Thailand’s Thonchai Jaidee defeat pre-tournament favourite Ian Poulter 3 and 2.
There was one halved match as Bo Van Pelt came back from three down after 12 to finish all square with and South African Richard Sterne.
The 24 players in the field are split into eight groups of three at the beginning of the tournament, with each player playing two matches and the top two from each group progressing to the knock-out stages.
Shane Lowry will make his debut on Friday by taking on George Coetzee in the morning and Peter Hanson in the afternoon.