MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - American Bo Van Pelt drew first blood in the snow-delayed first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship with a commanding 6&5 victory over John Senden on Thursday.
Van Pelt advanced after the duo had completed their first hole of the day, the par-five 13th which the Australian conceded with a bogey after ending up in desert scrub off the tee.
Soon after, U.S. Ryder Cup player Matt Kuchar wrapped up a 3&2 win against Japan’s Hiroyuki Fujita after the players had recorded matching pars at the 15th and 16th.
”We were kind of trading back and forth and I got on a little run right around the turn,“ Van Pelt told reporters after winning four consecutive holes from the eighth. ”John was in a tough spot in the desert when we stopped yesterday.
“I feel fortunate. He’s a great player and the weather was tough yesterday ... it wasn’t hard to be a little bit off yesterday.”
Australian Jason Day completed a crushing 6&5 win over Zach Johnson when the American missed a birdie putt from 14 feet at the 13th in a bid to keep their match alive.
Day had been in full command after making four birdies in the first eight holes and he was 6up overnight before Johnson won the par-five 11th with a birdie.
The first-round matches finally got under way at Dove Mountain’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club after the scheduled resumption had been pushed back four-and-a-half hours due to unplayable conditions.
Two more inches of snow blanketed the course overnight, lifting the total to four inches in under 24 hours, and hopes for a quick melt were dashed by plunging temperatures and early morning frost.
Just over three-and-a-half hours of golf was possible on Wednesday because of driving rain, sleet and then snow after 23 of the 32 matches had started with none finishing.
Among other early matches on Thursday, 2010 champion Ian Poulter was 2up on fellow Briton Stephen Gallacher after 15 holes and long-hitting South African Richard Sterne was 3up on American Jason Dufner after 12.
Defending champion Hunter Mahan was 4up on Italy’s Matteo Manassero after 12 and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts was 3up on American Bill Haas after 10.
Northern Ireland’s world number one Rory McIlroy, beaten by Mahan 2&1 in last year’s final, and three-times champion Tiger Woods were among those yet to start their first-round matches.
McIlroy has been drawn to play Irishman Shane Lowry in the opening round while Woods will face fellow American Charles Howell III.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry