• Volvo World Match Play Championship, Day One

Poulter gets defence off to winning start

ESPN staff
May 17, 2012
Brandt Snedeker started his round in trainers after a mix-up at the airport © Getty Images

Ian Poulter got the defence of his Volvo World Match Play Championship title off to an ideal start on Thursday, as Brandt Snedeker began his tournament with a win despite beginning his round with only 11 clubs.

Poulter, victor over Luke Donald in the final 12 months ago, returned to Finca Cortesin with positive memories and turned that into an opening 3&2 victory over Australian John Senden.

In truth it was an unremarkable performance from the Englishman, who won the third with a birdie to take the lead as his opponent struggled to do any better than par. Two further birdies to start the back nine put Poulter three-up, before Senden got a hole back with his first birdie of the day at the 14th.

Poulter hit straight back with a birdie of his own at the 15th, however - with a par at the next thus proving enough to close out an opening triumph.

The nature of the group stage of the event means one win is no guarantee of progression to the last 16, although the Englishman will secure his place in the knockout stages with a victory over the other member of his group, Tom Lewis, on Friday.

Perhaps the most remarkable victory of the day came from Snedeker, however, as he beat Thomas Bjorn despite beginning his round with 11 borrowed clubs.

With his normal set of clubs missing at the airport, Snedeker (who also wore trainers for most of his round) started with a borrowed set - leaving three spaces in his bag to add specific clubs from his usual set when they finally made their way to the course.

The disruption didn't stop the American winning five of the first six holes against Bjorn, however, as he eventually romped to a 5&4 victory.

"I used John Senden's back-up driver and it worked really well, so I think it's mine now," Snedeker joked afterwards. "The putter I got from the pro shop - they haven't charged me yet!"

Justin Rose enjoyed the biggest victory of the day, handing compatriot Robert Rock a thorough 7&6 beating to leave the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship winner's hopes of making the group stage hanging by a thread.

In the biggest shock of the day, Martin Kaymer - at world No. 9 the lowest ranked player in the field - suffered a shock 3&2 defeat against Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who won this season's Dubai Desert Classic.

In the day's all-Spanish encounter, Sergio Garcia edged Alvaro Quiros - while Paul Lawrie defeated Swede Peter Hanson by the same 2&1 scoreline.

Elsewhere, Graeme McDowell defeated Robert Karlsson at the final hole to put one foot in the knockout stages, while Nicolas Colsaerts and Charl Schwartzel halved their match to leave both needing to beat Retief Goosen tomorrow to be assured of progress to the weekend.

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