World Match Play Championship - 1st Day Notes
Five Top-10 Go Home, Show Continues
by Martin Olivera

It was a day of upsets today at La Costa, confirming what it was said by most players all week: seeding means nothing at match play at this level. O'Meara (seeded #3), Love III (#4), Westwood (#5), Montgomerie (#6), and Els (#7) were five of the top-10 players who did not make it to the next round. Overall, 18 higher seeded players lost to lower seeded players and are on their way home.

Tiger Woods took care Nick Faldo 4&3 in perhaps the most anticipated match of the day. "I hit a lot of good shots at crucial times in the match today. I was able to hang in there and beat a great champion," said Woods. Having won a first match in this type of single elimination competition was a relief. "I wouldn't say I was lucky. Relieved is definitely the right word," said Tiger. "It's always nice to get a win under your belt and get some confidence going into tomorrow," he added.

Top seeded European players were handed tough defeats. Colin Montgomerie lost to local favorite Craig Stadler 5&3, and Lee Westwood lost to Argentine Eduardo Romero 3&2 in a tough match, where both players traded punches until Romero's short game took care of Westood unlikely poor putting. Another Southamerican, Carlos Franco, used a new driver to overcome Mark Calcavecchia 2&1 and Calc's putter lies on the bottom of the lake by the 17th green as a testimonial. Another local, Phil Mickelson was never down in his 3-up victory over Joe Ozaki.

The most one-sided match was Tway's victory over Tom Watson -- 6&4. Tway made four birdies and Watson made four bogeys that resulted in a match ending on the 14th green. Incidentally, Tway and Watson were the closest seeded players facing each other (#32 and #33, respectively). No match went beyond 18 holes, and the most popular finishing hole was #16, with 8 matches ending 3&2. The biggest upset was perhaps Michael Bradley -- seeded #62 -- over Mark O'Meara - seeded #3 -- by 3&2.

Paul Azinger took care of match play expert and last week PGA TOUR winner Ernie Els. The match was tied through 17 holes, but Els bogeyed the last hole to hand Azinger the victory.

There's no mercy out there. Tomorrow is a clean slate again. Although survivors already past the first hurdle, they'll be in another all-out battle.