MARANA, Ariz., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Luke Donald
made an early exit Wednesday but Tiger Woods
overcame a slow start to advance at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Donald, ranked No. 1 in the world and one of the event's four top seeds, never led in his match against Ernie Els, who trounced the defending champion 5 & 4.
Els, who made the tournament only when Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey withdrew, won the 11th, 12th and 14th holes to close out the match.
Donald was one of just two players from the world's Top 10 to be eliminated on the opening day of the year's first World Golf Championship event. No. 6 Webb Simpson was knocked out by Matteo Manassero 3 & 2.
Second-ranked Rory McIlroy was a 2-up winner over George Coetzee, No. 3 Lee Westwood got past Nicolas Colsaerts and No. 4 Martin Kaymer defeated Greg Chalmers 4 & 2.
Neither Woods nor first-round opponent Gonzalo-Fernandez Castano played solid golf, with Woods struggling through a three-hole stretch beginning at the ninth in 4-over par. The former top-ranked player took a 1-up lead to the final hole, however, and he closed out Castano by making a 12-foot par putt after putting his second shot into a greenside bunker.
Woods will face Nick Watney in the second round after Watney defeated reigning British Open champion Darren Clarke 5 & 4.
Thirteen of the 32 first-round matches at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club went to the 18th hole and seven other matches were not decided until the 17th.
Among the more entertaining matches was Ryo Ishikawa's 1-up win over Bill Haas, who was coming off his victory last week at the Northern Trust Open.
David Toms set up a meeting with Kaymer by downing Rickie Fowler 1-up and current FedEx Cup points leader Kyle Stanley was a 2 & 1 winner over K.J. Choi.
Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley were also among the winners.
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