Love shines to eclipse Westwood

Davis Love produced a dazzling display yesterday to knock Lee Westwood out of the World Match Play Championship at La Costa in California.

In five attempts at the event, Westwood has now never gone beyond the second round, but he has never before had such a defeat as the seven and six hammering dished out by Love, which equalled the record winning margin.

Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, meanwhile, had their work cut out to avoid the same fate as the British player. Woods, winner of the event for the past two years, trailed Australia's Nick O'Hern by two at the turn, while Singh, the world No 1, was one down at the turn to 51-year-old Jay Haas.

Westwood gave Love a helping hand on the opening two holes, going from rough into water at the first, and then bunkering his tee shot to the short second. But the American, runner-up to Woods last year, then moved into overdrive. After Westwood had made a 20-foot birdie putt at the third, Love followed him in for a half from 15 feet, then at the sixth produced a marvellous eagle two.

The tee had been moved forward 50 yards to tempt players to go for the green. Love accepted the challenge and hit his drive 305 yards to within 10 feet of the flag while Westwood found sand. Love then birdied four of the next five holes to be seven under for 11 holes, and a half at the next finished off his deflated opponent.

It was the seventh seven-and-six margin of victory in the Championship's short history. Love's name was already on that list, but he will prefer this second entry - he was thrashed by Darren Clarke two years ago.

Ian Poulter was also heading for a big win. Seven under on the opening day when he beat Jim Furyk three and one, Poulter led Australia's Stuart Appleby by five after holing his 132-yard pitch to the 10th for an eagle two. And he had birdied the four holes before that.

Padraig Harrington led Rory Sabbatini by one at the same stage, but Luke Donald was two down after seven to Kenny Perry. David Howell stood one down to Adam Scott at the turn and Graeme McDowell went from two up after four to three down with seven to play against Robert Allenby.

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