Defeats for Gallacher and McDowell

Ryder Cup heroes Graeme McDowell and Stephen Gallacher both lost their second matches at the Volvo World Match Play on Thursday.

McDowell, the defending champion, suffered just his third ever defeat in the competition against an inspired Mikko Ilonen.

Ilonen was in brilliant form at the London Club, carding seven birdies to secure a 2&1 win.

He was six under par and four up after 10 holes, and even though McDowell hit back to birdie the 11th, 13th and 15th, Ilonen was able to hang on for the win, a final birdie at 17 ending the contest.

“I’m disappointed to lose today but Mikko was incredibly solid,” McDowell said. “I felt like I played the best golf the first five holes but he putted better and that was the difference.”

Gallacher, meanwhile, lost a tight contest with Pablo Larrazabal, with the match going all the way to the 18th before the Spaniard claimed a one-hole victory by holing a pitch from the rough for a birdie four.

Describing the winning moment, Larrazabal said: “(The hole) looked terrible all the way. Driver to the bunker, I stride to hit a nine iron, I pull it a little bit into the thickest rough on the golf course and I had 50 metres to the hole. I hit a six iron as hard as I could, trying to make five and trying to have a half point today (so I could) go out there and try to do my job tomorrow.

“But yeah, the ball was sitting great. I thought I had the chance to putt it close and to make five and to put the pressure on Stevie – Stevie had a good lie – but I holed it and it went in, happy days.”

Other winners on Thursday included Victor Dubuisson (3&2 over Shane Lowry), Joost Luiten (4&3 over Alexander Levy) and Henrik Stenson (2&1 over Francesco Molinari).

Stenson said: “I felt like I was playing better and better as the round went on. I just figured yesterday I didn’t take my chances against George when I had them.

“Today I felt I needed to take them and rolled some nice putts in to close out the match, so that was very satisfying.”

George Coetzee beat Thongchai Jaidee 2&1, Jamie Donaldson secured a 3&2 victory over Jonas Blixt, and Patrick Reed edged Paul Casey 2&1.