At an event known for unexpected results, today's early returns from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship have been more startling than in most seasons.
With several afternoon matches nearing conclusion, including narrow leads for top seeds Tiger Woods (1-up thru 17 holes) and Phil Mickelson (1-up thru 16 holes), the big news involves a top seed who was routed (Ernie Els) and another who is in danger of being ousted (Steve Stricker).
As things stand at roughly 5:20 p.m. (Central time), the following big names already have been sent packing: top-seed Els, No. 2 seeds Jim Furyk and Rory Sabbatini and No. 4 seeds Zach Johnson (reigning Masters champ) and Geoff Ogilvy. Ogilby, the 2006 U.S. Open champ, won the Match Play event in 2006 and was the runner-up last year. But he was bounced this morning by Dallas resident Justin Leonard, 2&1.
The biggest stunner occurred in the Ben Hogan Bracket, where Els was hammered by No. 16 seed Jonathan Byrd, 6&5. It stands alonside Woody Austin's 6&5 upset of Toru Taniguchi (No. 10 seed over No. 7 seed) as the most lopsided match of the opening day.
With a handful of matches still in progress, here are the results that have caught my attention to date:
-- Els' lopsided loss to Byrd.
-- No. 1 seed Steve Stricker, all square on the 19th hole with No. 16 Daniel Chopra.
-- No. 2 seed Rory Sabbatini, the Colonial champ, falling 4&3 to Bradley Dredge.
-- No. 2 seed Jim Furyk losing to No. 15 seed Colin Montgomerie, 3&2
-- Leonard knocking off Ogilvy, a finalist at this event in each of the past two years.
-- No. 13 David Toms over No. 4 Zach Johnson, 2&1
-- No. 11 Boo Weekley over No. 6 Martin Kaymer, 2&1
-- No. 15 Rod Pampling over No. 2 Justin Rose, 2&1
-- No. 10 Nick O'Hern over No. 7 Scott Verplank, 3&2
-- No. 10 Charles Howell over No. 7 Stephen Ames, 19 holes
_ Jimmy Burch
a 6&5 loser to No. 15 seed Jonathan Byrd; No. 2 seed Jim Furyk, a 3&2 loser to