Jason Day prevailed in the opening round of the WGC Match Play Championship but the news wasn’t as good for Australia’s only other competitor as Marc Leishman was bundled out.
World No.11 Day clinched a tough match against Dane World No.60 Thorbjorn Olesen 2up while No.63 Leishman lasted 22 holes before succumbing to No.8 Sergio Garcia.
“I got off to a nice start winning other Thorbjorn and my game feels good right now,” Day said.
“Today was more of a mental grind for me today, just to get through the round. I played as good as I could.”
Day found himself one-down after four holes when Olesen landed an eight-foot birdie putt while the Australian was in the sand but he started his comeback on the eighth.
A six-foot birdie putt dropped to square the match before he seized control at the 11th and 12th.
The 26-year-old drained a 10-footer for birdie on the par 5 11th and then sunk a 12-footer on the par 3 12th to jump to a 2up lead.
A wild drive into the desert on the par 5 13th saw him lose half his advantage but a par on the 14th was good enough to restore a two-hole buffer.
Olesen created some heart-flutters in the Day camp when he nailed eight-foot and 16-feet on 15 and 16 to square the match but the Australian countered when it mattered.
He stuck his approaches in tight on 17 and 18 and Olesen couldn’t match him under the pressure, eventually leading to a 2up triumph.
For Leishman, it was the match that got away. The Victorian rocketed to a 2up lead through three holes but was one-down through 12.
He prevailed on the 14th and 15th holes as Garcia made some errors to be 1up, a lead he took to the 17th hole.
But after Leishman drove the ball into the fairway bunker on 17, Garcia capitalised to square the match and then Leishman made the cardinal error of finding the sand in the middle of the 18th fairway.
The match should have ended there as he hit it dead into the desert forcing a sideways chip out and an eventual bogey but Garcia gifted him new life by failing to get up and down from the green-side fringe.
Leishman had chances to end it from the fairway on the first and second fairways during extra holes but couldn’t find the shot he needed.
With Garcia long on the first he came up short and with the Spaniard struggling in the rough on the second Leishman pulled his approach into a terrible bunker lie.
Garcia eventually nailed a seven-foot birdie putt on the 22nd hole to clinch victory.
Day will play American Billy Horscel in the second round.