Poulter claims early lead

Ian Poulter took an early lead in his first round clash at the Accenture Match Play Championship today.

Ian Poulter took an early lead in his first round clash at the Accenture Match Play Championship today.

He got out of the blocks in perfect fashion, winning the first two holes with birdies on a sunny morning at Dove Mountain.

Poulter was two-up after three holes against straight-hitting American Bart Bryant, while fellow Englishman Luke Donald also made a good start, winning the first hole in his match against Spaniard Miguel Jimenez.

But Dane Thomas Bjorn seemed headed for an early exit, as South African Trevor Immelman charged to a six-up lead after 11 holes in the first match of the day.

Immelman was not particularly brilliant but Bjorn was completely out of sorts. He started brightly enough with a birdie at the first, only to run up four bogeys before the turn.

The elimination format of the World Golf Championships event means that 32 players – half the field – will be gone at the end of the day, some of them having flown halfway around the world for less than 18 holes of competitive golf.

Among other early matches, Chris DiMarco led American Ryder Cup team-mate Brett Wetterich by three after nine holes, while defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, of Australia, was one-up after nine holes against American Steve Stricker, the 2001 champion.

In an all-European affair, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke were all square after five holes, while South African Ernie Els was all square after four holes against Welshman Bradley Dredge.

Most of the top seeds were yet to tee off, including Tiger Woods, who was up against American compatriot JJ Henry.

A record 19 Europeans are in the 64-man field.

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