Ryder Cup star Justin Rose suffered a surprise defeat to Australia’s Marc Leishman on the opening day of the WGC Match Play.
Rose came into the event on the back of winning the Zurich Classic on Sunday in his first appearance since finishing second in the Masters, but was never in front against Leishman before losing 3&2 on Wednesday.
Leishman, who withdrew from the Masters as his wife recovered from a life-threatening illness, won the opening hole with a birdie and moved two up when Rose bogeyed the third, the Englishman having played his last 66 holes at TPC Louisiana without a dropped shot.
Rose, who was unbeaten in five matches and Europe’s leading points scorer in their victory at Gleneagles last year, twice got back to just one down but a bogey on the 11th was followed by a Leishman birdie on the 12th and there would be no way back for the world No.6.
The only good news for Rose was that a defeat no longer meant heading for the airport and a flight home, with the traditional straight knockout replaced by a round-robin format with the 64 players divided into 16 groups of four.
The other match in Rose’s group had also been decided, with India’s Anirban Lahiri – twice a winner on the European Tour this season – defeating Ryan Palmer 4&2.