Sports

Only Rose raises English cheers

US Open champion Justin Rose edged upset-minded American Scott Piercy 1-up yesterday morning (Singapore time) to prevent a total England ouster in round one of the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship.

Rose, the top seed in his quarter of the bracket in the 64-man event, didn't break par until a long eagle putt at the 11th hole to square the match, then nursed a lead off a birdie at the 12th into the clubhouse.

"It wasn't a classic, but it didn't need to be," Rose said. "I kept saying to myself, 'I've got all day to beat him,' and that's the way it turned out."

The opening day of the US$9 million ($11.3m) event at Dove Mountain produced only a record-low nine upsets according to seedings, but three of them were suffered by Englishmen - Lee Westwood and past champions Ian Poulter and Luke Donald.

Third seed Poulter, who won the Match Play crown in 2010 and reached last year's final four, fell 2 and 1 to American Rickie Fowler.

Italy's Matteo Manassero routed fifth seed and 2011 winner Donald 5 and 4, for only Donald's second first-round loss in 10 starts at the event, while Westwood, an eighth seed, was a 5-and-3 loser to American Harris English.

Add David Lynn's ouster despite pushing US fourth seed Brandt Snedeker to 20 holes, the American taking his lone lead of the match with a nine-foot birdie at the last, and it was four of five gone quickly for England.

The day's biggest upset victim was US top seed Zach Johnson, who was routed 5 and 4 by Richard Sterne.

Also ousted was US second seed Dustin Johnson, who lost 4 and 3 to 59th-ranked Peter Hanson. The Swede won the first hole and never trailed.

South African Ernie Els, who faces Rose next, beat Scotsman Stephen Gallacher in 19 holes, the same number 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner needed to dispatch fellow American Scott Stallings.

Top seed Rory McIlroy beat Boo Weekley 3 and 2 to book a date with English.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson, the overall top seed, birdied 16 and 17 for his first lead of the back nine to edge out Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat 2 and 1.

LOSS

The Thais suffered another loss when Thongchai Jaidee was beaten 3 and 2 by American webb Simpson.

There were also plenty of thrillers among the openers, including Hideki Matsuyama edging out Germany's Martin Kaymer 2 and 1.

The Japanese star won 14 and 15 with birdies to go 1-up and took the match when Kaymer missed the 17th green and missed a 20-foot par putt.

The longest match was Spanish second seed Sergio Garcia's 22-hole triumph over Australian Marc Leishman.

Garcia squared the match with an eight-foot birdie putt at 17, then missed a six-footer for par at 18 to force extra holes. - AFP.