FOWLER STUNS POULTER, Latest Sports News - The New Paper


England's Ian Poulter became the first major upset at the US$9 million ($11.3m)World Golf Championships Match-Play Championship, losing to American Rickie Fowler 2&1 this morning (Singapore time).

Poulter, who won the Match-Play crown in 2010, reached the semi-finals last year before losing American Hunter Mahan.

But the world No. 15 crashed out in the first round this year at the hands of Fowler, who birdied the fourth and won the par-three sixth and par-four seventh with pars to lead 3-up early on, then topped Poulter's birdie at 14 with an eagle to win the hole.

"I was definitely an underdog coming in," Fowler said. "If I was filling out a bracket, I would have picked Poulter, too."

Fowler, a 14th seed in the quarter of the draw topped by Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, advanced to a second-round match against the hottest player on the US PGA Tour, fellow American Jimmy Walker.

Walker, seeded sixth, eliminated South African 11th seed Branden Grace 5&4.

Walker birdied three of the first five holes and won the eighth with a par, then closed out with a 12-foot birdie putt at the 14th.

"Just kept the ball right out in front of me and tried not to get into too much trouble," Walker said.

"Giving yourself a lot of looks at birdies is key."

Walker has won three PGA titles already this season, capturing the 2013-2014 opener at the Open, adding the Sony Open in Hawaii last month and taking the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am just 10 days ago.

Upsets became the order of the day with Swedish 15th seed Peter Hanson ousting US second seed Dustin Johnson 4&3 and South African 14th seed George Coetzee eliminating US third seed Steve Stricker 3&1.

Stricker made four bogeys on the front nine and Coetzee opened with 13 pars before birdies on two of his last three holes sealed victory.

Next for Coetzee is American 11th seed Patrick Reed, who beat Canada's sixth-seeded Graham DeLaet 1-up.

Reed's five-foot par putt at 18 was enough to seal the win after DeLaet missed a 40-foot birdie bid at the last.

Next up for Hanson is Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, the seventh seed who beat US 10th seed Kevin Streelman 4&3.

Bubba Watson, coming off his first victory since the 2012 US Masters at Riviera last week, opened with a 2&1 win over Finland's Mikko Ilonen.

The US third seed next plays Swedish 11th seed Jonas Blixt, who ousted US sixth seed Keegan Bradley 2&1.

- AFP.