Poor starts for Rose, Poulter

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Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Stephen Gallacher and Graeme McDowell were all defeated at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, although the quintet were spared an early flight home due to the round-robin group format being introduced for the first time this year.

Rose, who arrived on the back of his superb victory in New Orleans last weekend, struggled to recover from going behind early on in the first match of the tournament against Australian Marc Leishman, who held his nerve to wrap up a 3&2 win.

The Englishman twice reduced the deficit to one, but he bogeyed the 11th and Leishman effectively put the result beyond doubt with a crucial birdie at the next. “I don’t feel very hopeful right now but I have a shot, so I guess that’s a??good thing,” Rose said.

Poulter has played Webb Simpson in the singles at the last two Ryder Cup contests, coming out on top at Medinah and earning a half at Gleneagles, but the Englishman was left to rue a run of four bogeys in six holes on the front nine as he slumped to a 3&2 defeat.

“I’ve drawn him in the last two Ryder Cups and what a match player he is,” Simpson told Sky Sports 4. “He is always tough and even being three or four up I knew I couldn’t let up and I’m happy to get by for sure.”

Poulter later wrote on Twitter: “Truly disgusting putting today, it was??actually farcical. Spent 3 hours on the putting green this afternoon. We will??see if it helped.”

Gallacher failed to make a single birdie as he suffered a humiliating 7&6 defeat to Hunter Mahan, and the Scot has now lost 11 of his last 12 match play singles contests.

“It was a combo of me playing well and putting the pressure on him and he did not have his best stuff today,” said Mahan, who beat Rory McIlroy to win the title in 2012 and reached the final again the following year.

Stenson was edged out on the first extra hole by Australian journeyman John Senden, while McDowell was pipped by good friend Shane Lowry, who birdied the 12th to go ahead and held on for a 1up win.

But Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Jamie Donaldson enjoyed better fortunes as they won their opening matches. Westwood birdied the final hole to snatch a tense win over Matt Every, and Garcia hit back from two down against debutant Tommy Fleetwood to claim a 2up victory on the 18th.

“Tommy played well all day then hit a couple of iffy shots in the??last five holes and I was able to take advantage,” Garcia said afterwards.

Donaldson, who earned the winning point for Paul McGinley’s side at Gleneagles last year, was also taken to the 18th before wrapping up a tight win over Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.

Meanwhile, Masters champion Jordan Spieth cruised to a 4&2 victory over Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, who was the last man into the field following Phil Mickelson’s withdrawal, and two-time Augusta winner Bubba Watson crushed Miguel Angel Jimenez 5&4.

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