Poulter in early trouble

Salisbury Journal: Ian Poulter trails Rickie Fowler by three holes (AP) Ian Poulter trails Rickie Fowler by three holes (AP)

Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia soon found themselves with an uphill battle to avoid an early exit from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday.

Poulter, whose love of sleep means he happily describes himself as "half-man, half-mattress", was probably not happy to be out in the first match at 7.25am local time at Dove Mountain.

And the Englishman's mood will not have been improved by falling behind to American Rickie Fowler as he looked to kickstart his season with a good performance in the event he won in 2010.

After the opening three holes were halved, Fowler won three of the next four and needed only one birdie to do so, although Poulter then reduced his deficit with a birdie on the eighth.

However, a par on the 10th was enough for Fowler to move three up once again and leave Poulter in serious trouble of a third first-round exit in the last four years.

Garcia was two down to Australian Marc Leishman after just four holes, although at least the Spaniard lost the second and third to birdies from his opponent.

Elsewhere, South African George Coetzee was perhaps unsurprisingly three up on Steve Stricker after seven holes, Stricker's participation having been in serious doubt until his brother had a successful liver transplant over the weekend.

Spain's Pablo Larrazabal was one up against 2013 PGA Tour rookie of the year Jordan Spieth, while American Jimmy Walker - who has already won three times in the 2014 season - was four up against Branden Grace after 10.

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