• WGC Match Play Championship, Round Two

Donald flounders, Poulter flies in Arizona

ESPN staff
February 22, 2013
Luke Donald was second best on almost every hole against Scott Piercy © Getty Images

WGC Match Play Championship draw & results

Ian Poulter almost shot a seven-under for the course in his three and one victory over Bo Van Pelt but fellow Englishman Luke Donald joined the swiftly growing scrapheap of the world's top players at the WGC World Match Play Championship by losing to Scott Piercy.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and No. 2 Tiger Woods were both knocked out in the first round, leaving Donald as the highest-ranked player in the competition.

But he was never in his tie with Piercy and the contrast with Poulter's form could not have been greater.

If Van Pelt had not conceded on the 17th hole Poulter would have most likely sunk his birdie putt and gone seven-under. But although the Englishman was pleased with his round he stopped short of saying he is in the form which saw him win this tournament in 2010.

Instead the Englishman stressed how he was cutting the errors out of his game and said he was feeling fresh after a six-week break from competition.

Although he went one down to Van Pelt early in the match, he won three holes before the turn to take the lead. He then went four up before Van Pelt pegged him back, but as the clubhouse approached he out-played his opponent who had had enough after missing his birdie putt at the 17th.

The match-play expert has serious cause for optimism ahead of his third round match with Tim Clark.

"It's feeling pretty good I have to say," Poulter said. "It's always pretty risky taking six weeks off before coming into this week but it's worked out pretty well. I did a lot of good work at home in Orlando. I put a new set of irons in the bag, worked with some new utilities and a new driver and they are working really well. The numbers I have got are better than ever and I could not feel any fresher and fitter than I do right now.

"Seven-under I guess is a great score, I gave a couple back yesterday with making silly errors, I didn't make one today. When you do that making seven birdies you are going to be tough to beat."

On the other side of the Sam Snead bracket, Donald suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Piercy , who won seven and six.

Donald was three down after three holes, his double bogey, par, bogey combination making for a terrible start. But Piercy then holed a shot from 228 yards to make an eagle at the fifth hole and go four up, from where he never looked back and closed out the match with a birdie at the 12th.

Donald's form was also patchy at his first tournament of the year; the Northern Trust Open in California and this defeat will have done nothing to boost his confidence that 2013 could be the year he lands a first major.

"I have got a lot of respect for Luke and I knew I had my hands full," Piercy said afterwards. "I played really solid and I think he was a little bit of his game and I capitalised."

Big-hitting American Robert Garrigus ensured that none of the top four seeds would make it to the third round by upsetting Louis Oosthuizen three and two. The pair were all square through the first eight holes but Garrigus played a bogey-free four-under in his final eight holes and the South African could not keep pace.

Bubba Watson needed 22 holes to beat fellow American Jim Furyk but held his nerve and is now the only top-ten player left in the competition. Last year's Masters champions Watson missed two short putts that would have won the match, allowing Furyk to bring matters all square with a birdie at the 18th. But the 2003 US Open champion bogeyed at the 22nd and Watson found par to progress.

Nicolas Colsaerts knocked Justin Rose out of the running in Arizona with a four and two victory. The Belgian defeated his Ryder Cup team-mate with a round that featured six birdies and one bogey, compared with the Englishman's four birdies and five bogeys.

Rose holed the only eagle of the round on the 11th to bring him back to one down but he could not sustain his recovery and Colsaerts ended the match at the 16th, he now faces Matt Kuchar in the next round.

Kuchar was all square with Sergio Garcia after nine holes but the American pulled away from the Spaniard as they headed for home with birdies at the 11th, 14th and 17th to win two and one.

Shane Lowry, who knocked out Rory McIlroy in the first round, easily beat Carl Pettersson six and five to become the first No. 64 seed to make it into the third round.

"To lose in the second round is not what I want coming here this week," the Irishman said. "I wanted to go on. I feel like I could potentially do very well in this tournament."

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