Poulter sunk by Cink
Stewart Cink came from two down to beat defending champion Ian Poulter at the 19th hole of the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
By Paul Higham @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 24/02/11 4:32pm
Defending champion Ian Poulter was two-up with four to play but lost on the 19th hole against Stewart Cink in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Poulter was unhappy at being sent out first as defending champion, but after an early delay due to frost he got stuck right in to his match with Cink
Always on top, the Englishman was forcing Cink to make clutch putts of ten and 12 feet just to get halves at the 11th and 12th, but an 18-footer gave the American the 13th hole.
Poulter still opened up a two-hole lead on the 14th, but Cink's scrambling again got him back into the match, and after an up-and-down on the 18th sent the match down the 19th, he stuck his second shot within four feet to go through.
"I really should have shut the match out, to be honest with you," said Poulter. "Every credit to him. He holed putts at the right time and that's what you have to do in this format.
"He putted me off the golf course. I missed my chances and therefore I have been punished."
"It was like a Jekyll and Hyde kind of a round out there for me," Cink added. "I didn't have much or on the front nine at all, then my putter woke up.
"It needed to be because I would be going home otherwise. Neither of us played our very best and I'm just pleased to move on - Ian's a guy I really respect and I drew probably the toughest match in the field."
Rory McIlroy had less problems as he secured a routine 4&2 win over Jonathan Byrd, while Luke Donald scored an emphatic 6&5 success over a miss-firing Charlie Hoffman and young Italian Matteo Manessaro grabbed a surprise win over Steve Stricker.
Donald now faces Italian Edoardo Molinari after he beat Martin Laird 3&2, while McDowell's comfortable 3&2 success over Heath Slocum puts him into a second-round tie with England's Ross Fisher, who beat Robert Allenby 4&3.
"Charley was not on his A-game," Donald said. "I was probably three or four under and I'll take the win, but it was not too hard fortunately."
McIlroy, meanwhile, chipped in for eagle at the 393-yard fourth during his win, one that was made all the more satisfying because the Golf Channel had tipped him to lose.
"It obviously gives you a little extra to go out and prove them wrong," said the 21-year-old. "I felt if I played my game I would be tough to beat."
McIlroy meets another American, Ben Crane, in the second round.
Paul Casey - runner-up in the event for the past two years - found life a little tougher against Richard Green, winning at the first extra hole.
A par at the first was enough to put the Englishman through to a meeting with American Jason Day, who defeated Korea's Kyung-tae Kim 3&2.
"I just never got going," admitted Casey afterwards. "I didn't birdie any par five and made a real botch of the 17th. It really was pretty poor."
Elsewhere, Dubai Desert Classic winner Alvaro Quiros went out at the 20th to Korean YE Yang, who now plays Cink in round two, while Open champion Louis Oosthuizen was sent packing by Bo Van Pelt on the final green.