Henley, Day and Sterne score upset wins

Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:51pm EST
 

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley beat in-form South African Charl Schwartzel 1up to pull off the biggest early upset in the snow-delayed first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday.

The 23-year-old American, who clinched his maiden victory on the U.S. circuit at last month's Sony Open, never trailed and held off a late fightback by the 2011 Masters champion with pars on the last three holes.

Among the late starters, Northern Ireland's world number one Rory McIlroy was 1up on Irishman Shane Lowry after six holes, and three-times winner Tiger Woods was all square with fellow American Charles Howell III after five.

Australian Jason Day, Belgian Nicholas Colsaerts and South African Richard Sterne also delivered upset wins at Dove Mountain on Thursday but Henley's triumph came as the biggest surprise given his opponent's scintillating recent form.

Schwartzel had won twice, sealed two runner-up spots and added three more top-five finishes in his last seven starts worldwide but he struggled against Henley with four bogeys in the first 13 holes.

"I knew Charl was going to be tough," Henley told reporters. "I just give it everything I had, tried to hang tough and play until the end.

"I tried to not get too up or down. I've heard a lot of comments from people saying they expected him to win, and that gave me a little motivation for sure."

Henley will next meet Day, who completed a crushing 6&5 win over Zach Johnson when the American missed a birdie putt from 14 feet at the 13th in a bid to keep their match alive.   Continued...

 
Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia hits off the 17th tee against Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee during the weather delayed first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona, February 21, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph Freso