SCOTTISH trio Stephen Gallacher, Paul Lawrie and Richie Ramsay joined the world’s top two in making early exits from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.
Lothians star Gallacher lost 2 and 1 to 2010 winner Ian Poulter, Edinburgh-based Ramsay went down by the same margin to world No.5 Louis Oosthuizen after being two up with five to play, while Lawrie lost 4 and 3 to American Scott Piercy.
World No.1 Rory McIlroy crashed out on the last in his all-Irish duel with Shane Lowry before second-ranked Tiger Woods also fell at the first hurdle as he went down by 2 and 1 to fellow American Charles Howell III.
As the first round was completed following Wednesday’s snow, Gallacher, who was making his debut in the £5.6 million event at Dove Mountain, had the consolation of making Ryder Cup star Poulter fight for his win after the Scot resumed at three down with seven to play.
“Yesterday killed me,” admitted Gallacher afterwards. “I played a lot better today, but had given myself too much to do. I’ve not putted or played on such fast and slopey greens for ages, but it’s great experience and I want to be back in this event next year.”
Lawrie, who reached the third round 12 months ago, had a new putter in his bag, but it failed to bring a change of luck for the Aberdonian, who was always up against it after losing the opening two holes to Canadian Open champion Piercy.
“I hit it good, but again putted awful,” said Lawrie on his Twitter account. “Only had one single putt all day and that was from 3 ft at the fourth.”
Ramsay, another debutant, was on course to pull off a shock until 2010 Open champion Oosthuizen turned their match around by winning four holes in a row from the 12th.
“I’m a bit disappointed – didn’t take my opportunities after a good 11 holes,” tweeted Ramsay, who, like his compatriots, had the consolation of picking up a cheque for $45,000.
McIlroy paid the price for failing to take some early chances against Lowry, who chipped in at both the 11th and 12th.