Inspired Stenson and Larrazabal light up London Club

Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:00pm EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

ASH England (Reuters) - Henrik Stenson produced an inspired burst of scoring to earn his first victory at this week's World Match Play Championship while Pablo Larrazabal won after staging a Houdini-like recovery on Thursday.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell suffered his first defeat as he went down 2 & 1 to Finn Mikko Ilonen in a sizzling encounter featuring 12 birdies.

McDowell's Ryder Cup partner Victor Dubuisson recorded his second straight victory in the round-robin format by easing past Ireland's Shane Lowry 3 & 2 while South African George Coetzee defeated last year's runner-up Thongchai Jaidee 2 & 1.

Stenson, who finished all square with Coetzee on day one, was three down after four holes against Italian Francesco Molinari but the world number five turned the match around in spectacular fashion with six birdies and an eagle in the last nine holes.

The Swede is now level with Coetzee on three points, ahead of Thongchai (two) and Molinari (zero). The top two in each four-man group go through to Saturday's quarter-finals.

"I had a rocky start and gave away a couple of early gifts," Stenson told reporters at the London Club. "I didn't give up though and then I started playing better and better.

"I was eight-under from the ninth hole onwards... I'll take that. It was a good day especially considering I haven't touched a club for two weeks coming here."

Stephen Gallacher, who failed to win a point on his Ryder Cup debut last month, suffered a cruel fate in his match with Spaniard Larrazabal.   Continued...