- Volvo World Match Play Championship, Day One
Poulter suffers World Match Play defeat
Ian Poulter has it all to do if he is to make progress in the Volvo World Match Play Championship following Thursday's play.
The Englishman, considered a specialist in this format after his Ryder Cup heroics of recent years, went down 3&2 to Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee on day one at Thracian Cliffs Golf and Beach Resort.
Poulter raced into a two-hole lead with birdies at the second and third, but the deficit was immediately cut in half when his second shot at the fourth disappeared into the Black Sea.
The pair took turns in taking the lead until a double-bogey six at the 14th for Poulter handed Jaidee a chance to close in on the victory, which he took with a birdie on 16. Poulter must now overcome Thomas Aiken on day two if he is to have any chance of qualifying for Saturday's quarter-finals.
Defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts also faces an uphill task after failing to recover from a blistering start from South African Branden Grace, who led by five at the turn and held on to win 4&3, but the largest margin of victory came courtesy of Graeme McDowell, who eased past Englishman Chris Wood 5&3.
"I played solidly," said the Northern Irishman. "It's important to get off to a nice start. For the guys that lose today, it's not the end of the world - they can still go out and try to win tomorrow.
"To get the win under the belt today is very important to take the pressure off somewhat going into tomorrow, but you certainly can't take it lightly. If the game goes the other way in the morning, I still have a job to do tomorrow afternoon."
Elsewhere, it was a mixed day for the three Swedes in the field. Carl Pettersson, who has re-joined the European Tour in a bid to qualify for next year's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, eased past in-form Thorbjorn Olesen 4&3, while Peter Hanson beat George Coetzee 2&1. But it was defeat for Henrik Stenson, who went down 2&1 to Italy's Francesco Molinari.
The only American teeing up in Bulgaria this week, Bo Van Pelt, halved his match with Richard Sterne, while Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano almost blew a four-hole advantage against Welshman Jamie Donaldson, with the Spaniard clinging on for the victory.
Volvo World Matchplay Championship day one results:
Mark McCormack Group: Carl Pettersson bt. Thorbjorn Olesen 4&3
Gary Player Group: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano bt. Jamie Donaldson 1 Hole
Greg Norman Group: Francesco Molinari bt. Henrik Stenson 2&1
Ian Woosnam Group: Branden Grace bt. Nicolas Colsaerts 4&3
Gustaf Larson Group: Bo van Pelt vs. Richard Sterne Match Halved
Arnold Palmer Group: Peter Hanson bt. George Coetzee 2&1
Assar Gabrielsson Group: Thongchai Jaidee bt. Ian Poulter 3&2
Seve Ballesteros Group: Graeme McDowell bt. Chris Wood 5&3