Champion McDowell turns on style at World Match Play
By Tony Jimenez
ASH England (Reuters) - Graeme McDowell's putter resembled a magic wand as he began his Volvo World Match Play title defense by dispatching Alexander Levy of France 3 & 2 in his opening round-robin group match on Wednesday.
Levy, who triumphed at the rain-shortened Portugal Masters last week, was two-under for his round but could not cope with a turbo-charged performance from McDowell who ignored the sopping wet conditions by rattling in seven birdies in 16 holes.
Elsewhere, world number five Henrik Stenson finished all square with South African George Coetzee while Frenchman Victor Dubuisson eased past Spain's Pablo Larrazabal 3 & 2 and Swede Jonas Blixt defeated American Patrick Reed 2 & 1.
Shane Lowry notched seven birdies to beat Stephen Gallacher 3 & 2 and Paul Casey edged Jamie Donaldson 2 & 1. Thongchai Jaidee was a two-up winner over Francesco Molinari while Joost Luiten squeezed past Mikko Ilonen one-up in a high-quality tussle featuring 12 birdies and one eagle.
McDowell, who eclipsed Thongchai 2 & 1 in last year's final in Bulgaria, said he was particularly pleased with his form on the greens against Levy.
"Alexander is a very good young player but didn't make as many putts as I did," the world number 18 told reporters at the 50th anniversary edition of the tournament.
"These greens are outstanding considering how much rain this course has taken. The surfaces here are as good as any you will see -- generally if you hit a good putt it will go in."
The 35-year-old Northern Irishman, a member of Europe's victorious Ryder Cup team last month, gave an emphatic fist-pump salute after sinking a 15-foot putt at the 15th to effectively extinguish Levy's challenge on the rolling hills of the Kent countryside. Continued...