Defeats for Colsaerts and Poulter
Defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts and former winner Ian Poulter face a battle to remain in the Volvo World Match Play Championship after losing their opening group games in Bulgaria.
Colsaerts was five down after just nine holes to South African Branden Grace before eventually losing 4&3, while Poulter started with three straight birdies at the spectacular Thracian Cliffs but also carded four bogeys and a double bogey in a 3&2 defeat to Thongchai Jaidee.
Ryder Cup team-mates Francesco Molinari, Graeme McDowell and Peter Hanson fared better with wins over Henrik Stenson, Chris Wood and George Coetzee respectively, while Carl Pettersson beat Thorbjorn Olesen, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano saw off Jamie Donaldson on the 18th and Richard Sterne halved with Bo van Pelt.
The good news for Colsaerts and Poulter is that the three-man group format allows them the chance to reach the last 16 with a win on Friday, with Colsaerts actually progressing via a play-off last year after drawing one game and losing the other.
"It's not often you lose in match play and everything is fine," said Poulter, who refused to blame struggling with stomach cramps for his shock defeat.
"I got off to a great start with three straight birdies but made a few mistakes and gave him holes today, which you don't do in match play. If you hit a couple of errant shots on this course you're going to struggle to get back."
Colsaerts was never in front against an inspired Grace, who holed from 45ft on the third for one of his five birdies on the front nine, but said: "I'm not worried because my game is so close to where it was the last two years. It's just about inches here and there.
"I know if I play well tomorrow I am at least in a play-off and I feel like this course suits me as well as any other."