McDowell’s World Match Play defence ends

McDowell a loser for once

McDowell a loser for once

Defending champion Graeme McDowell suffered just his third ever defeat in the Volvo World Match Play Championship on Thursday.

McDowell reached the quarter-finals of this event on his debut in 2011, the final in 2012 and won the title last year, while his victory over Alexander Levy in the opening group match on Wednesday made for an overall record of 15 wins from 17 matches.

However, the former US Open champion found Mikko Ilonen in brilliant form at The London Club, the Finn carding seven birdies to hold off a determined McDowell fight back and secure a 2&1 win.

Meanwhile, the losing streak of his Ryder Cup team-mate Stephen Gallacher's in single's matchplay continued as Pablo Larrazabal holes a pitch from 30 yards on the 18th to snatch an unlikely victory.

That made it 10 consecutive singles defeats across six different match play competitions for the Scot, who lost to Phil Mickelson on his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles last month.

"I was five under today and have played two guys that haven't had any bogeys," said Gallacher, who lost to Ireland's Shane Lowry in his opening group match and cannot qualify for Saturday's quarter-finals even if he beats Ryder Cup team-mate Victor Dubuisson on Friday.

"It's not a jinx. What happened at the last is typical match play golf as he's won it with a birdie without having been on the fairway. I had a chance to shut the door on him a bit but I hit a poor second shot. If I'd have knocked it on the green, it would have made his fourth shot a bit more difficult.

"In fairness to Pablo, he holed two good par putts at the ninth and 10th to stay one down before he birdied four of the last six holes. I'm gutted to have lost the match like that, but that's match play golf for you. I'm also feeling a bit tired at the moment, to be honest."

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