Brian Keogh in Tucson
With a spaghetti western style backdrop of desert and cacti, there was more than a hint of the good, the bad and the ugly on the opening day of the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship at The Gallery Golf Club.
The good was produced by defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who took up where he left off last year with a facile 4 and 3 win over 2001 champion Steve Stricker in sun-splashed Arizona.
But the bad and the ugly came from the likes of South African Ernie Els and Irish Open champion Thomas Bjorn who both pocketed cheques for $40,000 as first round losers before heading for the airport under an azure sky.
Bjorn was the first to bite the dust when he was crushed 6 and 5 by South African Trevor Immelman in the curtain-raiser. But the real shock was the 4 and 2 defeat of world number three Els at the hands of 62nd ranked Welshman and event debutant Bradley Dredge.
Els made just one birdie, at the par five 10th, but that was still only good enough for a half against the 33-year-old Cardiff man, who won the 12th in par to go two up and the short 14th with a birdie before the South African shook hands at the 16th.
"It's very special to beat Ernie Els in your first match in the Accenture," Dredge beamed afterwards.
Bjorn won the first against the head in his clash, but was totally out of sorts after that with four bogeys in the next seven holes putting him four down before Immelman effectively closed out the match with birdies at the 10th and 11th.
"Trevor played nicely without doing anything special," Bjorn lamented afterwards. "It was probably the easiest game he will ever win. It was poor. Disappointing to come all this way for that."
Immelman, who was the last man to beat Tiger Woods in a PGA Tour event when he took the Cialis Western Open in July last year, will face Chris DiMarco today, following the New Yorker's clinical 4 and 3 win over his his 2006 Ryder Cup team mate Brett Wetterich.
Ogilvy, meanwhile, rattled in three successive birdies from the 10th to go three up and then had a two at the short 14th to extend his advantage and clinch a second round clash with Jose Maria Olazabal, who downed Paul Goydos with a birdie at the 19th.
"I didn't make any bogeys and made a lot of birdies," said Ogilvy, who birdied all the three par fives he faced at Dove Mountain. "It's what you've got to do here because the greens are perfect, the weather is perfect. It’s going to take a lot of birdies to do well here."
While Els failed to spark, fellow South African Retief Goosen had no such problems as he crushed Scott Verplank by carding five birdies and an eagle three in a facile 5 and 4 win.