Last year’s finalists Graeme McDowell and Thongchai Jaidee both made winning starts to the Volvo World Match Play Championship at London Golf Club.
McDowell, who fought back from three down to beat Jordan Spieth in the opening singles match in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles last month, was again in the first match out on Wednesday morning, but was never in trouble against the in-form Alexander Levy, who won the rain-shortened Portugal Masters on Sunday.
Four birdies in the first six holes helped the Northern Irishman into a comfortable lead, and although Levy kept his hopes alive with a birdie to win the 13th, McDowell matched another birdie from his French opponent on the 15th before completing a 3&2 victory on the next.
Despite three-putting the 17th to set-up a nervy trip down the last, Jaidee saw off Italy’s Francesco Molinari two up.
The 44 year old from Thailand has made the cut in all 20 European Tour appearances this term – he also made the weekend in his last four showings last season – and won a sixth European Tour title at the Nordea Masters earlier in the year.
There were also wins for Shane Lowry (3&2 over Stephen Gallacher), Joost Luiten (1 up against Mikko Ilonen), Paul Casey (2&1 over Jamie Donaldson), Jonas Blixt (2&1 over Patrick Reed) and Victor Dubuisson (3&2 over Pablo Larrazábal).
The only halved match of the day was between Henrik Stenson and George Coetzee, who birdied the final hole to share the points with the World Number Five.
“My putting today was key but it helps that these greens are outstanding, considering how much rain this golf course has taken. The surfaces here at the London Golf Club are as good as any you’ll see. Generally if you hit a good putt, it will go in.
“I was generally happy with my driving accuracy today. This is a tight golf course at times, and you have to keep it in play. Coming off the win last week, I wasn’t taking Alex lightly. He’s a very good young player, but he just didn’t make as many putts as I did. It’s very important to win that first match this week.”
“I feel great with that. Playing Jamie was always going to be an extremely difficult match. He’s probably fatigued coming off the back of all the golf he’s played recently, but his performance at The Ryder Cup illustrates how good a golfer he is and how good a match play player he is. I knew it was going to be tricky out there, but I played some wonderful stuff. The last thing you want to be doing is to be on the back foot after day one. So it feels great to get two points on the board, and we are off and running.”
Source: European Tour