If you ever had a doubt about how tough the European Players are in Match Play competition, all you need to do is look at the round one match-up between Graeme McDowell, and Gary Woodland. Woodland was a 13 seed and had the number 4 seed, McDowell on his back with his foot on his throat. The popular 2010 US Open Champion birdied four holes in a row to win one of the better matches in round one at the Accenture Match Play Championships.
After three opening birdies, Woodland had his competitor down 3 before the engine on the jet they shared from Orlando got cool. By the time they finished the seventh hole Woodland had a four up lead, and looked unbeatable. Gary Woodland is one of the biggest hitters on the tour, and with two strong par fives on the back nine, looked unbeatable.
Graeme McDowell got the tide turned on the ninth hole where he was able to get a birdie while Woodland was in trouble making a bogey. In match play format, the best you can do is win a hole, it doesn’t matter if you lose by one, or three strokes.
With needing birdies to win, the 29 year-old from Kansas couldn’t buy a birdie down the stretch. McDowell chipped at the lead with a birdie on 11, and Woodland got one back at 15, then McDowell went on a birdie binge that wouldn’t stop until they were in the clubhouse.
Needing to win every hole down the stretch in the face of elimination, McDowell went to work and took the match. He conceded a put at 18 that tied the match for the first time since they teed off at the first hole. The big putt for McDowell came at 17. Needing to birdie to extend the match, Graeme McDowell nutted in a 15 foot putt to win the hole, and for all practical purposes, win the match.
Gary Woodland will take the jet home, and Graeme McDowell will advance to the second round where he will take on Presidents Cup teammate, Hideki Matsuama. The young Japanese player closed out 2011 PGA Champ, Martin Kaymer 2 &1 earlier in the day.