MARANA, Ariz. — Tiger Woods had to play a left-handed shot out of the desert. Retief Goosen holed out from 156 yards and didn't even win the hole. Dustin Johnson twice won a hole after taking a penalty drop.
But the strangest sight of all Wednesday at the Match Play Championship didn't come from the golf course.
It was Luke Donald on his way to the airport.
"Golf is like that sometimes," Donald said after his 5-and-4 loss to Ernie Els, becoming only the third No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round. "It's a fickle game, and sometimes it bites you."
It almost took a bite out of Woods, who had to rally to beat Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano; and U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 seed who was 3 up with three holes to play and was sweating on the 18th until George Coetzee missed a short putt for par.
Donald was so dominant last year in winning the Match Play Championship that he closed out all six of his matches before they reached the 18th hole. He won't be playing the closing hole at Dove Mountain this year, either.
Els, who only got into the 64-man field when Phil Mickelson took his family on a ski vacation, delivered the biggest shocker in the first round by player in a hole from which he couldn't recover.
Donald lost in the opening round for the first time in eight appearances in this World Golf Championship.
"I don't think it would have mattered who I played today. I just didn't play well," Donald said.
Woods nearly found that out, too.
He trailed the Spaniard with four holes to play, and both of them looked beatable. That changed when Woods drove the par-4 15th green to win with a two-putt birdie, won the 16th with a par and then closed out the Spaniard with an 8-foot par putt for a 1-up win.