Robert Rock added another big scalp to his recent collection when he knocked Adam Scott out of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson.
Making his debut in the event a month after beating Tiger Woods and the world’s top four in Abu Dhabi, the 34-year-old new English star overcame Australia’s world No 8 on the final green.
Rock’s success followed defeats for his compatriots Justin Rose, Simon Dyson and Ian Poulter – winner two years ago – while defending champion Luke Donald, never behind in any game last year, was down early on to Ernie Els.
Lee Westwood was going well as he reached the turn against Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, though, and Rory McIlroy, also in with a chance to going to world No 1 this weekend, held the early advantage against South African George Coetzee.
Scots Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird both won, Lawrie beating Rose and Laird getting the better of Alvaro Quiros in two of six all-European clashes, but McIlroy was left to carry Northern Irish hopes after Graeme McDowell lost again to YE Yang and Open champion Darren Clarke was crushed by Nick Watney.
Malton’s Dyson fared little better, losing out to Australia’s John Senden 4 & 3
Quiros’s fellow Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, meanwhile, had the chance to grab the biggest headlines when he took a one-up lead into the final five holes against three-time winner Woods – a year after Woods went out in the first round to Thomas Bjorn.
Scott was not the only current world top 10 player to fail to make the second round, 18-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero taking out sixth-ranked Webb Simpson.
Lawrie followed up his Qatar Masters victory with a last-hole win over Rose in his first appearance at the tournament since 2003.
The former Open champion said: “It’s great – you want to play in these events, but there’s no point playing if you come and get beat.”
Laird was also taken to the 18th, but struck a superb nine-iron to two feet and did not have to make birdie after Quiros three-putted.
“Yesterday in practice was as good as I’ve hit it in a year,” said Laird.
McDowell lost 3&2 to Yang in the third round a year ago. This time it was a 2&1 margin and he was out of the 64-man event before top three seeds Donald, McIlroy and Westwood had even started.
Poulter lost 4&3 to Yang’s fellow Korean Bae Sang-moon, playing not just his first Match Play tournament, but also his first world championship event.