It’s all go for January after the R&A and USGA published their finalised Rules of Golf. So what’s coming in? Steve Carroll outlines the changes.
Round of the Giantkillers.
The first round of the WGC Accenture MatchPlay definitely fell on the side of the bookmakers as Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Charl Schwartzel all crashed out in the frosty Arizonan desert.
Play began early after the first day was cancelled due to a freak snow storm that dropped two inches of snow over the Dove Mountain course in Tucson. Conditions continued to worsen overnight, with another storm delaying play a further seven hours before a shot was hit.
But things soon warmed up once all the players were on the course with PGA Tour rookie, Russell Henley, causing the first shock by defeating in-form South African, Charl Schwartzel. Schwartzel, who recorded two victories and six top five finishes in his last six starts, was expected to make light work of Henley, 23. Henley, however, who notched up his first Tour victory in January at the Sony Open, raced off to a strong start which he never relinquished, beating the former Masters champion 1-up.
"I just tried to give it everything I had and just hang tough and play until the end."
The air of upset was quick to circulate round the course and Rafael Cabrera Bello claimed the scalp of Lee Westwood with a 12-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole, despite having been trailing with just four holes to play. The delighted Spaniard tweeted "Arizona I got you back, you owed me from last year... Thanks to everyone!!" referring to his heartbreaking playoff defeat in the first round in 2012.
The All-Ireland tussle between Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry seemed to be going in the world No.1's favour until a magic spell by Lowry turned the match around. He chipped in at the 11th hole for a halve, chipped in again at the 12th hole for the win and then hit a 260-yard approach to three-feet at the par-5 13th was conceded to give him the lead, which he held onto to win.
"Deep down, I knew I could beat him," Lowry said. "There's a reason I'm here, and this is match play."
And the final big shock of the day came when Charles Howell III - or Chucky 3 lines as he's known - defeated world No.2, Tiger Woods in a tense match that ended on the 17th.
Charles Howell: "In this format, match play is crazy. He's Tiger Woods. I was lucky to hang in there."