Golf

Graeme McDowell makes solid start in defence of Volvo World Match Play title

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Graeme McDowell made a perfect start to the defence of the Volvo Matchplay Championship after beating Alexander Levy 3&2 at the London Club.

Levy came into the event on the back of winning the Portugal Masters, after the tournament was cut short to 36 holes. However, he was well beaten by the Northern Irishman, who birdied four of his first six holes.

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McDowell was returning to match-play after his brilliant victory over Jordan Spieth at Gleneagles in the Ryder Cup, coming back from three down to win their match.

Fantastic start

Like at Gleneagles, McDowell was first out, and on this occasion he was four up through just ten holes. Levy threatened a comeback after a birdie on the 13th but a halve on the 16th saw the 35-year old close out the match.

McDowell will hope to continue his fantastic start when he takes on Finland's Mikko Ilonen. Ilonen lost his opening match 1up against Joost Luiten.

McDowell was happy with the win and believes the difference between Levy and himself was their putting.

Putt perfection

"There are no easy matches and you can't take anyone lightly, especially a guy who won last week, so I'm very happy to get the victory," McDowell said. "I was hot on the greens and he was cold and that was the difference.

McDowell also stressed the important of winning tomorrow and he looks towards the knock-out stages.

"It's important to control your own destiny in the group stages, you don't want to be relying on other people and if I can win tomorrow I will be in a great position."

George Coetzee snatched one point after an up-and-down on the final hole to earn himself a half against Henrik Stenson.

Brilliant up-and-down

Stenson, ranked number five in the world, is the top seed in the competition but threw away the full two points after he missed a five-foot putt for birdie.

Meanwhile, Coetzee didn't look like troubling the Swede after he missed the green to the right on the par-five. But a brilliant chip and a nerveless putt saw him grab a point in a match that didn't see a single bogey.

Shane Lowry performed brilliantly throughout his match against Ryder Cup debutant Stephen Gallacher by going round in seven under-par to record a 3&2 victory.

Rekindled form

Fellow Ryder Cup debutant Victor Dubuisson got off to a better start as he rekindled his Gleneagles form by beating Pablo Larrazabal 3&2.

The two victors in that Gabrielsson group, Lowry and Dubuisson, will meet in Thursday's second round of matches, while Gallacher and Larrazabal will look for their first win against each other.

American Ryder Cup rookie Patrick Reed lost to Swede Jonas Blixt 2&1 in the McCormack group. Reed relished the match-play format during his first Ryder Cup appearance at Gleneagles but was disappointed with the putts he missed on his return to the UK.

"It was one of those days where both of us played pretty solid but at the end of the day I didn't really make anything," Reed said.

"I missed a short one on six and it seemed like that was the story of the day, just missing putts left and right."

Reed will face Paul Casey, who overcame Jamie Donaldson by winning 2up. However, Donaldson was three down before he squared the match in the space of four holes, but couldn't hold on to a halve as Casey won two further holes.

Delighted

Casey was delighted with his performance but believes Donaldson may have been feeling the effects of a congested schedule.

"I feel great with that," said Casey. "Jamie's probably fatigued coming off the back of all the golf he's played recently but his performance at the Ryder Cup illustrates how good a golfer he is.

"I knew it was going to be tricky out there and I played some wonderful stuff."

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Topics:
Graeme McDowell
Golf
European Tour

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