Snow stops play... in Arizona desert!


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The Independent Online

There were extraordinary scenes in Arizona's high desert as play was suspended in the opening round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship because of driving rain and snow.

Just over three-and-a-half hours of play was possible on a bitterly cold and breezy morning at Dove Mountain before officials called a halt for the day as ice began to form on the greens.

In the early matches, former champion Ian Poulter struck first against Scotland's Stephen Gallacher – who won the Dubai Desert Classic on his last start three weeks ago – when he won the 393-yard fourth. The Englishman bogeyed the fifth, but a par on the sixth was good enough to take him in front for a second time and Gallacher then conceded the long eighth. Poulter did well to stay three up on Gallacher at the 601-yard 11th after his second shot was perilously close to going out of bounds. Justin Rose made a dream opening against South Korean KJ Choi. He birdied the first and Choi bogeyed the next two to go three down. Rose then went four up at the fifth, but Choi came back with a 14-foot birdie on the sixth.

The Australian Jason Day was in full command against Zach Johnson of the United States, four birdies in the first eight holes helping him go six up after 10.

Bo van Pelt was five up on fellow Australian John Senden after 12 holes, while defending champion Hunter Mahan was four up on Italy's Matteo Manassero after nine and Matt Kuchar was three up on Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita after 14.

Northern Ireland's world No 1 Rory McIlroy, beaten by Mahan 2 and 1 in last year's final, and three-times champion Tiger Woods were among those yet to start their first-round.