Anirban Lahiri on Thursday suffered a heavy loss to American Matt Kuchar, one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour, in the first match of the WGC-Dell Matchplay event here. (SSP Chawrasia Wins Indian Open Title, Anirban Lahiri Finishes Tied Second)
Kuchar, the 2013 winner of the event and a regular in US team for Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, won 6&5 without needing any spectacular play.
Lahiri seemed to be hit by the long trip back from India, where he finished second in the Hero Indian Open, an event on European and Asian Tours.
All the players wore a black ribbon in the honor of the victims of the Brussels attack.
Lahiri, who is playing his first full season on PGA Tour, will have a chance to make up when he meets Justin Rose in the next match. He will carry good memories of extending Rose to an extra hole last year, when matches went beyond regulation 18 holes in case of a tie. This year, ties will fetch a half point for both players.
The highlight for Kuchar was an eagle on the par-5 12th while Lahiri had a couple of untimely bogeys as the match ended after just 13 holes. Aside from the eagle, Kuchar was fairly quiet for most of the round. He only had three birdies on his card and hit only five out of 10 fairways at Austin Country Club.
In the other match in the group, Justin Rose beat Fabian Gomez 2-up. Rose and Gomez started the afternoon with matching bogeys on their first three holes but after that Rose took a 1-up lead on the fourth hole. He stretched it to 4 up following back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12. Gomez got within 1 down after a birdie on the 16th, but Rose won the 18th to secure the full point.
Favourites Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, all won their first matches, while Rickie Fowler was the big upset as he lost to Jason Dufner.
McIlroy edged out Thorbjorn Olesen 1-up, Spieth beat Jamie Donaldson 3&2 and Day beat Graeme McDowell also by 3&2. Fourth seed Bubba Watson and Pattie Kizzire halved their match. Adam Scott and Belgian Thomas Pieters halved their match. Phil Mickelson beat Matt Fitzpatrick 5&4 in a one-sided match.
There was a scare for Day as his back seemed to have tightened up and he needed a physio after the match. In two of the big upsets, Dufner beat Fowler 2&1, while Robert Streb beat Dustin Johnson 3&2.