Graeme McDowell defeated Gary Woodland in 19 holes in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. McDowell will play Hideki Matsuyama in the second round tomorrow.
McDowell was 4-down through seven, but hung in there to be 3-down with three to play. He said he thought he was headed home, but was able to hit quality shots over the final holes, and get help from Woodland.
Here is McDowell’s description of the final few holes, including a birdie on the first playoff hole to win:
3‑down with 3 to play, I guess a quality player like Gary Woodland is not a place to be. He hit a 6‑iron all over the flag on 16 and the Cadillacs were circling. I could see Colin (his agent) on the phone. I thought, right, hopefully he’s got me a flight booked, anyway.
He flew it about 8 feet past the flag, and hopped over the back, and all of a sudden I’ve got a chance to go down 17. He looked like he got a little nervous at that point. He had a wedge in his hand on 17 and missed it left, kind of the place you can’t miss it. I managed to make the putt.
18, he played quite conservatively, quite far back off the tee, and not very good second shot. I hit a decent iron in there. And all of a sudden I’m feeling very, very fortunate about life.
Hit my tee shot on 1 exactly where I hit it this morning, and pitched it within about a yard of where I did this morning, and had a better result this afternoon. Feel very fortunate, I have to say. Gary was extremely impressive today. I think he’s going to have a big year. I think he’s a great, great player. And like I [said], I feel very fortunate to have escaped.