The first day of the HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth was something of a graveyard for the top seeds, as six of the top eight suffered opening round defeats.
The main shock of the day was Tiger Woods’ 4&3 loss to Shaun Micheel, who had qualified for the tournament as the fifteenth seed after finishing runner-up to Woods at last month’s USPGA Championship at Medinah. Micheel (pictured with Woods) admitted himself that he had hardly played his best golf – but he made fewer mistakes than his illustrious compatriot, whose putter let him down for once.
“I don’t think either of us played well,” Micheel said after clinching a famous win.
“I played ok, but not as well as I’d have liked. I have finished second to Tiger more often than he has finished second to me but he has been playing some great golf and will continue to do that.”
“I had my chances,” reflected Woods, whose hopes of a sixth straight tournament win evaporated at the first hurdle.
“I felt like I hit the ball quite well all day but I just didn’t make any putts. I had a really hard time feeling the pace of the greens.”
Two other shocks included Sweden’s Robert Karlsson beating the USA’s Jim Furyk 4&3 – a great omen for Europe’s Ryder Cup challenge next week – and Angel Cabrera’s defeat of six-time champion Ernie Els. The Argentinian led for most of the 36 holes and eventually clinched a 2&1 victory on the 17th green in the afternoon.
English pair Luke Donald and Paul Casey warmed up for the Ryder Cup by defeating two South Africans. Casey enjoyed a fine 6&4 win over Retief Goosen in his debut at the event, while Donald had to fight hard to clinch victory over Tim Clark by 2 holes, setting up a clash later today with Micheel.
“If I had to choose then I’d rather play Shaun than Tiger,” said Donald, who had led for most of the day against Clark but then endured a nervous finish.
“However, he must have played really well to beat Tiger and so I’m sure he’ll be on a high. It will be a tough match.”
Casey started the afternoon session in fine form, going on one of his characteristic runs of four birdies and an eagle in six holes after lunch. After 11 holes of the morning session he had found himself two down to Goosen, one of the world’s top players.
“I’m ecstatic with how I played this afternoon,” he said.
“Retief is a very tough guy to beat and the last time I played 36 holes competitively was probably as an amateur, so it bodes well for the Ryder Cup.”
Elsewhere, defending champion Michael Campbell recovered from an early deficit to defeat England’s Simon Kahn 3&1 and Canada’s Mike Weir eliminated fourth seed Adam Scott 3&2. Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie won the ‘Battle of Britain’ by defeating his English Ryder Cup colleague David Howell by 1 hole after a very tense and close match.
“I just about managed to hang on,” a relieved Montgomerie said.
“I played pretty well and was never behind all day, but David is a very tough competitor.”
HSBC WORLD MATCHPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP, WENTWORTH – ROUND 1 RESULTS
M Campbell (1) beat S Kahn (16) 3&1
C Montgomerie (9) beat D Howell (8) 1 up
P Casey (12) beat R Goosen (5) 6&4
M Weir (13) beat A Scott (4) 3&2
R Karlsson (14) beat J Furyk (3) 4&3
A Cabrera (11) beat E Els (6) 2&1
L Donald (7) beat T Clark (10) 2 up
S Micheel (15) beat T Woods (2) 4&3
SECOND ROUND DRAW FOR FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 15TH
M Campbell (1) v C Montgomerie (9)
P Casey (12) v M Weir (13)
R Karlsson (14) v A Cabrera (11)
L Donald (7) v S Micheel (15)