Clarke and Faldo were All Square through 36 holes when play was suspended due to darkness. Earlier in the day, rain had halted play. The players were offered the chance to continue in the fading light or return in the morning. Both men optioned to finish the match Friday morning beginning at 8:00am.
(8) Padraig Harrington vs. Bob May
Harrington staged a magnificent comeback to defeat his American opponent 6-and-5. May took a 3-up advantage through the first nine holes, but by the 16th, the Irishman had grabbed the lead for good.
May birdied five holes in a six-hole stretch on Thursday, but after making the turn in 5-under-par 30, May couldn't sustain his brilliant play on the inward half.
Things began to turn in Harrington's favor at the 12th. Harrington made a 12-foot birdie putt, while May missed from five feet. Down one at the 13th, the Dubliner pulled All Square when May missed his par save and Harrington converted his.
A par at the 15th gave Harrington his first lead of the day. He took that 1-up edge into the afternoon 18. This time, it was Harrington who scorched the outward half. By the turn, Padraig had increased his lead to 4-up. A birdie at the 11th hole, his 29th of the day, gave him a 5-up lead with seven holes to play. He then closed out May with a par 4 on the 31st hole.
Harrington will now play defending champion Colin Montgomerie in the second round. Last year, the Scot defeated the Irishman 7-and-6 in the semi-final. This year, Harrington is seeking a little redemption.
'I'm looking forward to playing Monty,' said Harrington. 'I knew I would have to peak on Friday if I was going to have any chance against him, but I was also aware that I would have to be at my best today, as well. Bob played lovely golf this morning, but I was not unhappy with my own form and did not panic.'
(7) Thomas Bjorn vs. Retief Goosen
Goosen spent the early part of his first-round match trying to stay All Square with Bjorn. A birdie at the par-5 12th gave the South African his first lead of the day - a lead he would never relinquish.
Goosen took a commanding 3-up lead into the back nine during afternoon play. He birdied the par-3 10th to go 4-up, and then ended the match with another birdie 2 on the par-3 14th, the 32nd hole.
Goosen will now face fellow South African Ernie Els in the second round. Els is the only three-peat winner of this event. He accomplished that feat in 1994-96. He lost to Vijay Singh in the finals in 1997.
'It will be a tough match against Ernie,' said Goosen. 'I haven't played him since I was 14 or 15 and that was as a junior. He won both times so maybe it's my turn. I am going to have to give it my best,'
(6) Sergio Garcia vs. Adam Scott
Garcia won the battle of 20-year-olds by a 2-and-1 count. Scott was 3-up through the first 14 holes, but Garcia won the final four holes in morning play to take a 1-up lead into the afternoon. Included in his run was an 18-foot eagle putt at the par-5 18th.
'Those holes were important,' Garcia said. 'I told my caddie, Glen, that it would be good to go into lunch 1-down. I didn't expect to be 1-up.' Garcia extended his lead to 2-up with a par at the par-3 14th, the 32nd hole; then went 3-up with a birdie at the next. Scott managed to win the 34th hole to cut his deficit to 2-down. But the Australian was closed out on the next hole when both men made pars.
Garcia will now face former Ryder Cup teammate Lee Westwood in the second round.
(5) Darren Clarke vs. Nick Faldo
It wasn't supposed to be this close. If Darren Clarke could beat Tiger Woods head-to-head, he certainly wouldn't have any problems with a 43-year-old Faldo. Right?
Faldo fired a 68 in the morning to take a 3-up lead into the second 18 holes. Then Clarke woke -up. The Ulsterman carded three consecutive threes beginning at the 23rd hole, and managed to wrestle away a 1-up lead over the two-time Match Play champion entering the inward half.
Clarke had a six-footer at the last to win the match 1-up, but he came up short.
'I was disappointed to three-putt two of the last three,' Clarke said. 'But there was a pool of water between my ball and the hole at the last and that slowed it up. I'll be ready at 8 o'clock to go again.' The winner of this match will face 1997 Match Play champion Singh in the second round.