Defending champion Graeme McDowell was among the early winners at the first day of the Volvo World Match Play Championship, while Patrick Reed suffered an opening defeat in his first event since the Ryder Cup.
McDowell was the first player to win his match Wednesday at the London Golf Club, defeating Alexander Levy, 3 and 2, days after Levy won on the European Tour. McDowell was one of two Ryder Cuppers to win his opening match, as Victor Dubuisson downed Pablo Larrazabal by the same margin. Reed, Stephen Gallacher and Jamie Donaldson all lost their opening matches, while Henrik Stenson halved his match with George Coetzee.
Teeing it up for the first time since going 3-0-1 at Gleneagles, Reed lost to Jonas Blixt, 2 and 1, as the lone American in the field failed to win a hole until No. 11. Gallacher was unable to dig out of an early hole against Shane Lowry, losing 2 and 1, while Donaldson erased a 3-down deficit against Paul Casey before the Englishman finally notched a 2-and-1 victory.
With the 16-man field sorted into four groups of four, group play will continue Thursday with a slate of matches that will include McDowell vs. Ilonen, Reed vs. Casey, Dubuisson vs. Lowry, Gallacher vs. Larrazabal, Luiten vs. Levy, Stenson vs. Molinari, Donaldson vs. Blixt and Jaidee vs. Levy.
Group play will conclude Friday, with the field pared to eight players who will be placed into a single-elimination bracket.