Rory McIlroy beaten by Soren Kjeldsen in opener

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McIlroy had six birdies himself (to two bogeys), but when he pressed the gas late, Kjeldsen kept up.

Scotland's Russell Knox was a 3 and 2 victor over American Bill Haas while Gary Woodland beat Emiliano Grillo 3 and 2. No matter how Spieth and McIlroy play, they still will be here Friday, too. "I said, 'The news seems to be getting better". "If I had of played anyone else I might have won". Soren played great, so I think I have to give him credit.

In his first pool play match of the WGC-Dell Match Play on Wednesday at the Austin Country Club, McIlroy stepped to the 582-yard par-5 12th tee 1 down versus Soren Kjeldsen.

Meanwhile, world No.1 Dustin Johnson got his quest for back-to-back WGC titles off to a flyer, thumping former US Open victor Webb Simpson 5 and 3. "It's been really hard to play golf lately".

Following a season in which he finished in the top 10 on 11 occasions, he closed out the year by tying for 51st in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, tying for 60th in the WGC HSBC Champions in China and tying for 43rd in the UBS Hong Kong Open before finishing 10th among 17 players at the Hero World Challenge in Bermuda in December.

Justin Thomas (No. 6), fell behind for the first time in his match against Chris Wood on the 13th hole.

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Kjeldsen, crisp as ever with his short irons, ran off four straight birdies to end the match.

The Ulsterman looked to be on course for victory when he overturned a two-hole deficit with three birdies in a row from the 11th, only for Kjeldsen to birdie the next four holes to complete a superb 2&1 success. Parity was restored on 14.

"My record in this tournament is terrible", Kjeldsen said. "I guess that can tell you how I'm viewing everything this week". When I played on match play teams I've had good records.

"I knew I had to shoot a good score to have any kind of chance and I managed to do that". That's probably the time I'll start to cut back a little bit.

"When you get up real early, you just want to keep the momentum on your side", said Johnson.

Not that McIlroy was the only high-profile casualty on day one.

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"He feels very bad about withdrawing as any champion would". "It probably would have been".

Spieth, at a course he knows well from his spell at the University of Texas, did not lead at any point in the match. Later, he tried to provide context.

'My back is fine, I'm 100 per cent healthy, ' Day said. "I've got hopefully plenty of opportunities in this tournament going forward".

A stress fracture in the knuckle of the ring finger on his pitching hand slowed Scherzer's development this spring and caused him to grip his fastball with three fingers instead of two to avoid pain.

While Spieth and McIlroy were the major upsets of round one there was no such shock for World Number One Dustin Johnson who easily accounted for fellow American Webb Simson 5 & 3.

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