Thursday, February 22, 2018
Golf

Match Play Championship opens with rallies, upsets

MARANA, Ariz. — Graeme McDowell pulled off the biggest surprise Wednesday in an opening round of comebacks in the World Golf Championships-Match Play Championship.

McDowell was four down through seven holes and three holes behind with three to play against Gary Woodland. McDowell seized on Woodland's mistakes to win the next three holes, winning with a 6-foot birdie putt on the 19th hole.

"I'm sure he's extremely disappointed right now — and I'm extremely elated," McDowell said. "I'm surprised to be sitting here, having won. It's a brutal format."

The 32 players who headed home included Zach Johnson (third seed), Dustin Johnson (sixth) and Steve Stricker (ninth).

Eleven of the 32 matches went at least 18 holes, with five decided in overtime.

PGA champ Jason Dufner was three down with five holes to play when Scott Stallings chopped up two holes, Dufner made a key birdie, and Dufner won on the first extra hole with a par.

Eight players trailed with six holes remaining and went on to win. They included Henrik Stenson, who trailed Kiradech Aphibarnrat with five holes to play but avoided becoming the third straight No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round of golf's most unpredictable tournament.

The round of 32 is today.

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