MARANA, Ariz. — Luke Donald won't be playing the 18th hole at Dove Mountain this year, either.
Donald, so dominant in winning the Match Play Championship last year that he closed out every match before the 18th hole, became only the third No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round Wednesday in another predictably crazy day on Dove Mountain.
Ernie 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 with a 5-and-4 victory.
"I don't think it would have mattered who I played today. I just didn't play well," Donald said. "I struggled. I gave away too many holes and made too many mistakes. You can't do that in match play against anyone, let alone Ernie."
Tiger Woods nearly found that out against Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
Woods trailed the Spaniard with four holes to play, but he 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.
"We both made our share of mistakes, there's no doubt about that," said Woods. "But somehow, I was able to move on."
That was the only objective in this World Golf Championship, a single-elimination format in which the only proper use of the word "upset" is the mood of the 32 guys who are headed home. Among them:
■ Ian Poulter, the Match Play winner two years ago, suffered his worst loss in nine appearances when Bae Sang-moon beat him, 4 and 3.
■ Bill Haas, coming off a monster win at Riviera three days ago, looked like a winner when he was 1 up on the 17th green and had a 5-foot birdie putt. Ryo Ishikawa holed from 18 feet, Haas missed, and the Japanese star made par on the 18th to win.
■ In the most thrilling match of the opening round, Jim Furyk was on the verge of sending Dustin Johnson home early for the fourth straight year when Johnson hit his tee shot into the desert and had to take a penalty drop on the 20th hole. Furyk chipped across the green and three-putted for bogey to lose.
The other top seeds didn't have too many problems, although U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy had a nervous moment. He won four straight holes on the back nine to seize control against George Coetzee and was 3 up with three to play when McIlroy lost the next two holes with bogeys, then popped up a tee shot and made par a challenge. Coetzee, however, blew his approach some 60 feet long on the 18th and three-putted for bogey, giving McIlroy a 2-up win.
Next up for Woods is Nick Watney, who had little trouble disposing of British Open champion Darren Clarke.