Defending champion Jason Day and former World No.1 Adam Scott slumped to heavy defeats, but Marc Leishman and John Senden produced big upset wins on the opening day of the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship.
No.7 seed Day, was humbled 4&3 by 49th-seeded American Charley Hoffman with Scott hammered 5&4 by Italy’s Francesco Molinari.
The news was much better for Leishman and Senden who claimed the scalps of Justin Rose and Sweden’s world No.3 Henrik Stenson.
Leishman was a 3&2 winner against the world No.5 former US Open champion while Senden birdied the 18th to send his match to extra holes and then birdied the 19th to snatch the win.
Matt Jones couldn’t keep the giant-killing upsets going, falling 3&1 to world No.8 Dustin Johnson.
The only saving grace for Day and Scott is the new pool format of the event means they have yet to be eliminated and can still advance with wins on Thursday and Friday should other results go their way.
Day faces South African Branden Grace on Friday while Scott must regroup against England’s Paul Casey in must-win matches.
“Obviously I need to go out there and win the next two and whatever happens, happens,” Day said after his loss.
“If I sneak through, I sneak through. If not, then it’s my own fault for losing.”
Leishman, in just his second event back after almost losing wife Audrey to toxic shock syndrome, played with a freedom and calm and was never behind his opponent after taking the lead on the opening hole.
He’ll look to continue his winning ways Thursday against American Ryan Palmer.
“Sometimes you get into a mindset where you take golf too seriously, like it’s a life and death situation and I’ve just been through a real one of those,” Leishman said.
“So I know that golf isn’t life and death anymore. If I don’t pull a shot off, it doesn’t matter.
“I can be a bit more aggressive. There’s a good chance I’ll pull it off and if I don’t, I had a crack and try to do it on the next hole.
“Hopefully my perspective stays like this forever.”
Senden meets 23rd seed Bill Haas on Friday.
Other big-name winners included top-seeded Rory McIlroy, Masters champion Jordan Spieth, big-hitting world No.4 Bubba Watson and Jim Furyk.