Rory McIlroy & Tiger Woods suffer WGC Match Play defeats

Rory McIlroy's bad start to 2013 continued as the world number one lost out in the opening round of the WGC Match Play in Arizona.

McIlroy lost on the final green to fellow Irishman Shane Lowry to become the third top seed in the last four years to exit in the first round.

Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood were also knocked out on Thursday.

Woods lost 2&1 to Charles Howell III, while Westwood was beaten by Rafael Cabrera Bello of Spain.

The opening day of action at the course had been postponed because of snow, with play delayed until 13:00 local time on Thursday.

McIlroy changed club and ball suppliers at the start of this year in a lucrative deal but has struggled for form since, missing the cut in his opening event of the year in Abu Dhabi last month.

And McIlroy knows he has plenty of work to do after his defeat to a player ranked 68 in the world who secured victory with a dramatic final three-foot putt.

Top seeds at the WGC Match Play

  • 2012: Luke Donald loses to Ernie Els in first round
  • 2011: Lee Westwood loses to Nick Watney in second round
  • 2010: Steve Stricker loses to Ross McGowan in first round
  • 2009: Tiger Woods loses to Tim Clark in second round
  • 2008: Tiger Woods wins

"I drove really well, but couldn't take advantage of that," McIlroy said. "If I'd hit my irons better it could have been a different story.

"I could have been three or four up early on, but let him get back into the match and he had a nice little run."

Lowry, meanwhile said: "My knees were knocking over that final putt.

"I was very nervous going out and quite mad at myself for that, but I had a bit of luck that I needed and said to my caddie that he's not going to be liking this at all."

Howell, who was competing at the tournament for the first time in four years, made a 25-foot birdie at the 16th to take control of his match against Woods

"I had nothing to lose," said Howell, who started the year outside the top 100 in the world and hasn't qualified for this World Golf Championship in five years. "In this format, match play is crazy. He's Tiger Woods. I was lucky to hang in there."

The final matches were played in near darkness, and they could have stopped after 15 holes. Woods wanted to play on, even though Howell had the momentum. Woods was two under for the day, and neither of them made a bogey.

"We both played well," Woods said. "He made a couple of more birdies than I did. He played well, and he's advancing."

Westwood, who had led by three holes after nine, lost at the first extra hole to Cabrera Bello but there were wins for Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Luke Donald.

Poulter pressed home his lead to beat Scotland's Dubai Desert Classic winner Stephen Gallacher 2&1, Rose downed South Korea's KJ Choi 2&1 while Donald claimed a birdie at the last to beat German Marcel Siem.

In the other all-Irish clash Graeme McDowell defeated Padraig Harrington one-up.

First-round results (US unless stated):

Sergio Garcia (Spa) bt Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 1 up

Matt Kuchar bt Kasumi Fujii (Jpn) 3 & 2

Ian Poulter (Eng) bt Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 2 & 1

Bo Van Pelt bt John Senden (Aus) 6 & 5

Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) lost to Russell Henley 1 down

Zach Johnson lost to Jason Day (Aus) 6 & 5

Jason Dufner lost to Richard Sterne (Rsa) 1 down

Hunter Mahan bt Matteo Manassero (Ita) 5 & 4

Justin Rose (Eng) bt K J Choi (Kor) 2 & 1

Bill Haas lost to Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 5 & 4

Adam Scott (Aus) lost to Tim Clark (Rsa) 2 & 1

Jamie Donaldson (Wal) lost to Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 3 & 2

Bubba Watson bt Chris Wood (Eng) 2 & 1

Jim Furyk bt Ryan Moore 4 & 2

Lee Westwood (Eng) lost to Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa) 1 down

Martin Kaymer (Ger) bt George Coetzee (Rsa) 2 & 1

Keegan Bradley lost to Marcus Fraser (Aus) 1 down

Ernie Els (Rsa) lost to Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 1 down

Steve Stricker bt Henrik Stenson (Swe) 5 & 4

Nick Watney bt David Toms 5 & 4

Dustin Johnson lost to Alexander Noren (Swe) 6 & 4

Graeme McDowell (NIrl) bt Padraig Harrington (Irl) 2 up

Webb Simpson bt David Lynn (Eng) 5 & 4

Peter Hanson (Swe) bt Thomas Bjorn (Den) 3 & 2

Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) bt Richie Ramsay (Sco) 2 & 1

Branden Grace (Rsa) lost to Robert Garrigus 4 & 3

Luke Donald (Eng) bt Marcel Siem (Ger) 1 up

Paul Lawrie (Sco) lost to Scott Piercy 4 & 3

Rory McIlroy (NIrl) lost to Shane Lowry (Irl) 1 down

Tiger Woods lost to Charles Howell III 2 & 1

Rickie Fowler lost to Carl Pettersson (Swe) 1 down

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) bt Francesco Molinari (Ita) 2 up