independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Stars stunned by Arizona weather

A snowman stands on the fairway after snow stopped play in Arizona (AP)

Ian Poulter has never seen anything like it - caddies having a snowball fight in the Arizona desert.

Like the other 63 players in the Accenture Match Play Championship, Poulter was back at Dove Mountain near Tucson for the resumption of a first round halted by the wintry conditions. Less than four hours' play was possible and 10 games - including those of top seeds Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald - did not even tee off.

"This weather is officially ridiculous," McIlroy, who plays Shane Lowry in one of two all-Irish clashes, said on Twitter.

The other one between Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington had only just started when the suspension came and McDowell commented: "Holy coldness. I've only ever played in an event with conditions like this once." It was the West of Ireland Championship in "about 1998".

Poulter, winner in 2010 and perhaps the most feared match play golfer around after his deeds at the Ryder Cup, was going well. He stood three up on Scot Stephen Gallacher, who three-putted the short sixth and conceded the eighth and 10th.

"What's the problem? Let's play," Poulter joked on Twitter. "The caddies have officially just had a snowball fight. Never seen anything like it." He then posted a picture of "at least two inches of snow" on his courtesy car.

Lee Westwood was two up on Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello after five and Justin Rose two up at the turn on South Korean KJ Choi, although he had been four up after five.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, winner of last month's Abu Dhabi Championship, had to take a penalty drop after his opening drive and bogeyed five of the first seven holes to be three down to Thorbjorn Olesen, but Bristol's Chris Wood, who won his first European Tour title a week later in Qatar, was level with Masters champion Bubba Watson after six.

Closest to winning was Sergio Garcia, whose first shot on his return will be a 12-foot putt to beat Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee on the 16th green.

The forecast was for the snow to have cleared away overnight, but there was the possibility of early frost and that would delay things further.

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