Faltering Faldo has to work overtime

Nick Faldo's return to the big time in the Cisco World Match Play proved only partially successful. He achieved his objective of teeing up this morning but only to complete his first-round match with Darren Clarke. The match was suspended last night level after 36 holes and will be resumed on the first tee for a sudden-death playoff at 8am.

Nick Faldo's return to the big time in the Cisco World Match Play proved only partially successful. He achieved his objective of teeing up this morning but only to complete his first-round match with Darren Clarke. The match was suspended last night level after 36 holes and will be resumed on the first tee for a sudden-death playoff at 8am.

Clarke, who led only briefly in the afternoon, could have ended the match by holing from six feet for a birdie at the last. He missed, the ball slowing up on the saturated green, but an equally crucial mistake had come at the 16th. There, the Irishman three-putted from 15 feet, missing the one back from under three feet. Yet Faldo immediately surrendered the advantage when he could only par the 17th, Clarke having reached the green with two huge woods.

Darkness intervened because a dramatic thunder and hailstorm interrupted play for 80 minutes with the match all square on the 14th. Clark was never at his sharpest, particularly on the greens, and Faldo had managed to take a three-up lead on the 16th in the morning.

It was hardly vintage Faldo - his putting is yet to inspire confidence - but there were glimpses of the former greatness in his iron play which was enjoyed by the gallery on a sunny morning. But after lunch Faldo went to the turn in 38 to his opponent's 34 to fall behind, only for Clarke to miss another short putt at the 12th.

Although Clarke is the Andersen Consulting world champion, he has lost both his previous matches here. Faldo, on his first appearance for six years, has won 17 of his 40 matches in winning the title twice. The Masters champion, Vijay Singh, still awaits the identity of his second-round opponent.

With the top seeds entering the competition today, Colin Montgomerie plays Padraig Harrington, who beat Bob May 6 and 5, and Ernie Els faces Retief Goosen, who defeated Thomas Bjorn 5 and 4. Goosen also reached the second round last year by beating Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard redeemed himself by progressing to meet Lee Westwood after winning the battle of the 20-year-olds against Adam Scott, 2 and 1. The quality of the match was not the highest but the Australian was three up after 15 holes only to lose four in a row to finish the morning one behind.

He contributed to his own downfall by twice driving out of bounds at the 17th, while Garcia capitalised by hitting a three wood at the 18th to 10 feet for an eagle and never lost his lead. "I'll have to play a lot better tomorrow," Garcia said. "But in matchplay all you have to do is play better than your opponent."

Harrington is not the speediest but he managed to get back to the clubhouse before play was suspended by limiting the American participation in this year's tournament to 31 holes. This was all the more creditable given May had gone to the turn in the morning in 30 strokes to be three up.

"There was not much I could do," Harrington said. "I had made a couple of birdies and wasn't too disappointed with my own form." An eight-iron to six feet at the short 10th regained one hole and the match seemed to turn around May's miss from five feet for a half at the 12th. It was the first chance on the greens the American had let slip and he went on to miss another important putt at the next.

When May bogeyed the 15th Harrington went ahead for the first time and stayed there. It helped that he holed from almost 60 feet at the first in the afternoon. May might have taken Tiger Woods to three extra holes at the USPGA Championship in August but that it was not to be his day might have dawned when Harrington chipped in for a two at the second. "You are not being a very good host, are you?" May told his opponent before bravely holing his 20-footer for a half. May, known as "Top Ten Bob", departed with £50,000 for finishing joint ninth. Harrington was nine under par and his start was almost as good as last year when he beat Carlos Franco 7 and 6. The Dubliner went on to beat Els in the second round but was exhausted by the time he faced Montgomerie in the semis.

"You know if he plays well you are in trouble," Harrington said of the defending champion. "There is an expectation he is going to play to a certain level so that puts you under pressure." Given Monty's three PGA titles at Wentworth, Harrington was happy to concede home advantage. Though he does not try to pretend he is only playing the course, the Irishman does not go a far as Montgomerie in only "playing the man".

"It's hard enough trying to control what you are doing without trying to figure out what your opponent is doing," Harrington said. "All the psychologists say you should stay in the present so you shouldn't get into the future of someone else's game. That would really be ridiculous."

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