Published November 20, 2014
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - While three-times winner Tiger Woods had his hands full in his opening match, Charl Schwartzel and Bae Sang-moon both won comfortably at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday.
Masters champion Schwartzel of South Africa eased past big-hitting American Gary Woodland 4&2 while South Korean Bae upset Britain's Ian Poulter, the 2010 champion, 4&3.
Woods, seeking his first victory on the U.S. circuit in over two years, was one down to Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in a roller-coaster tussle after 11 holes.
In other first-round matches at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, in-form Korean Yang Yong-eun beat Britain's Graeme McDowell 2&1 and Dustin Johnson scraped through against fellow American Jim Furyk after 20 holes.
Schwartzel never trailed in his match against Woodland, having eagled the par-five second before going three up after five holes.
"I didn't make any mistakes at all," the slender South African told reporters after sealing victory with a birdie at the par-three 16th.
"Gary unfortunately hit a few bad shots, he gave me the holes. But I just kept applying pressure. I hardly missed a golf shot. It was just a good solid round of golf."
Yang, who became the first Asian male to win a major with his victory at the 2009 PGA Championship, produced sizzling form with seven birdies in the first match out.
"I ran into a man that played extremely well," a frustrated McDowell said. "I felt like I had to follow him all day long, and I did most of the day, but he didn't put a foot wrong.
"I made six birdies today. You just run into the wrong guy on the wrong day, and you have got your work cut out. I didn't take care of business, so I'm disappointed, yeah."
Soon after Yang's win, Japan's Ryo Ishikawa came from three down after 13 holes to beat American Bill Haas one up before Paul Lawrie edged fellow Briton Justin Rose by the same margin on a breezy, sun-splashed day in the Arizona desert.
Ishikawa birdied 14, 15 and 17 before wrapping up victory on the 18th green against an in-form opponent who won the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open on Sunday in a playoff.
"Through the first 13 holes, it was really tough and I wasn't playing that well," Ishikawa said through an interpreter. "But the last five holes, I was able to compete with the opponent. This course is suited for me."
Fernandez-Castano, who described the 14-times major champion as "beatable" during the build-up to this week's event, holed putts from 13 and 22 feet to birdie the first two holes.
His birdie at the par-five second was astonishing as he hit his drive well right into a small bush before striking a superb second shot to just short of the green and then getting up and down.
However, the Spaniard bogeyed the par-four fifth after missing the fairway to the right for his lead to be cut to one up before Woods took control with birdies at the seventh and eighth.
One up at the turn, Woods lost the 10th after pulling his drive left into desert scrub and also the par-five 11th, where Fernandez-Castano hit his third shot to three feet.
In other matches, Hunter Mahan battled past fellow American Zach Johnson after 19 holes and Italian Matteo Manassero never trailed on his way to a 3&2 win over American Webb Simpson.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)