Snow halts play at Match Play Championship
Marana, AZ (Sports Network) - The first round of the World Golf Championship - Accenture Match Play Championship was stopped by snow on Wednesday.
The lead match -- Sergio Garcia vs. Thongchai Jaidee -- had reached the 16th green. Garcia has a putt to win the match as he held a 2-up lead at the time play was stopped.
None of the four top seeds -- Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen -- had teed off before the snow started falling.
Twenty-one of the 32 first-round matches at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain had finished at least one hole.
"We got this freak snow storm. It was predicted, though. Even if it melted in the next hour or so, the golf course would not be ready to play for another hour-and-a-half or so after that. We just couldn't play," senior vice president for rules and competition Mark Russell said in an interview with Golf Channel. "Rather than keep the players around here, we just made a decision that we're going to come back tomorrow and finish the first matches."
Officials announced that round one will resume at 10:30 a.m. (ET) on Thursday. The second-round matches will also start on Thursday, then will be completed on Friday. The third-round matches will follow on Friday, and if those two rounds are completed that day, the tournament will be back on schedule.
McIlroy, the top seed in the Bobby Jones Bracket, will face Shane Lowry when their match tees off Thursday morning. Four of the five matches in that bracket that were on the course were all square.
Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel rallied to even his match with Russell Henley. Schwartzel fell 2-down twice on the front nine, but took the 10th and 11th to even things up before play stopped.
Dustin Johnson and Alexander Noren were even through one hole, while the Chris Wood-Bubba Watson match and Ryan Moore-Jim Furyk tilt were both even through six holes.
The most surprising match in the bracket saw Jason Day grab a 6-up lead through 10 holes against Zach Johnson. Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell had started, but didn't finish the first hole, while Rickie Fowler and Carl Pettersson are slated to tee off 10 minutes after the McIlroy/Lowry match.
Woods, a three-time winner of this championship, is set to play his good friend Charles Howell III in the 1-16 match in the Gary Player Bracket. Three other matches -- Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano vs. Francesco Molinari, David Lynn vs. Webb Simpson, and Thomas Bjorn vs. Peter Hanson -- also hadn't teed off yet.
Defending champion Hunter Mahan was 4-up through nine against Italian Matteo Manassero, while Richard Sterne had a 3-up lead on Jason Dufner after 10 holes. Lee Westwood grabbed an early 2-up lead on Rafael Cabrera-Bello and 2011 runner-up Martin Kaymer trailed George Coetzee 1-down after four holes.
Donald, the top seed in the Sam Snead Bracket and 2011 champion, will face Marcel Siem when play resumes on Friday. Paul Lawrie and Scott Piercy will start 10 minutes later.
Bo Van Pelt turned a 1-down deficit into a 5-up lead by winning six straight holes against John Senden. They are through 12 holes, as are 2010 winner Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher. Poulter is 3-up in that match.
Adam Scott is 1-up on Tim Clark after eight holes and Thorbjorn Olesen ran out to a 3-up lead through seven holes on Jamie Donaldson. Steve Stricker, the 2001 champ, took the first two holes from 2007 winner Henrik Stenson, while David Toms and Nick Watney halved the first hole.
Oosthuizen is the top seed in the Ben Hogan Bracket and will face Richie Ramsay in his first match. Branden Grace and Robert Garrigus will tee off after that duo.
Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Champion, and Marcus Fraser were even through three and Ernie Els was 1-up on Fredrik Jacobson after three.
Justin Rose had built a 4-up lead on K.J. Choi, but Choi had closed within 2- down after nine holes. Bill Haas was 3-down to Nicolas Colsaerts through eight.
In the final two matches, both could end quickly when play resumes on Thursday. Garcia has a 12-foot birdie putt to win the 16th, which would close out the match as Jaidee already posted a par on the par-3 hole.
Matt Kuchar is 3-up on Hiroyuki Fujita on the 15th hole. A win there by Kuchar would end the match.
NOTES: Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 and 2009 winner, is the most recent former champion not in the field ... There was also snow here a couple years ago, but that was on a Saturday night and play wasn't slated to start until noon that Sunday.