KAVARNA, Bulgaria -- Ian Poulter was eliminated from the Volvo World Match Play Championship after losing another round-robin match on Friday.
The flamboyant Ryder Cup star lost to Thomas Aiken 1 up at Thracian Cliffs, bogeying the last hole after missing the fairway.
VOLVO WORLD MATCH PLAY
"I have no excuses," Poulter said. "There is no excuse for that display of golf over the last two days. It's disgusting, disgraceful and there's no explanation. I should have been able to finish the match off."
Poulter lost to Thongchai Jaidee on Thursday. On Friday morning, Jaidee beat Aiken 1 up.
Jaidee is one of only four players to win both early matches, joining Francesco Molinari, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Scott Jamieson.
Fernandez-Castano beat Jamie Donaldson on Friday and then defeated Brett Rumford 3 and 2.
Rumford won his opening match earlier in the day, beating Jamie Donaldson 5 and 3 Friday.
"Jamie got off to a bit of a bad start and I just capitalized on that with three birdies in my first four holes to be 3 up and that really was the key," Rumford said.
Richard Sterne also ensured his advancement by defeating former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy 5 and 4, while defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts recovered from his first round loss, beating Kiradech Aphibarnrat 3 and 2.
"It played a little better today but there are still a few loose shots in my game, but I needed to win so I guess it's mission accomplished," Colsaerts said. "But hey, I'm in a better spot this year than compared to this time last year when I managed to go through to the last 16 with just a draw from my first two matches."
A second dominant victory in succession saw Graeme McDowell qualify for the last 16 as the top seed sent a clear message to his title rivals heading into the weekend.
“There are a few tight tee shots, but it really suits my ball shape; it suits the fade,” said McDowell. “You can aim away from trouble. And the on the way in, the fairways are tilted so much from right to left you actually want to hit a cut against them.
“It suits my ball flight I have to say, it's my kind of golf course. Hopefully I can keep doing what I'm doing and give myself a chance this weekend.”
With winds gusting up to 25 miles per hour on Friday afternoon, the Gary Player-designed course certainly needed some careful management and McDowell again embraced his favorite tag to handle the challenge with aplomb, moving 4 up over Stephen Gallacher through seven holes thanks to birdies at the first, third, fifth and seventh holes.
Gallacher, though, reduced the deficit to one with three victories in succession from the ninth, but McDowell rallied again with wins at the 14th and 15th and a concession from the Scot at the following hole brought handshakes.
“It was a good game,” McDowell continued. “I got off to a fast start, played beautiful the first eight holes and kind of started getting in a little trouble which you can do around this golf course. I hit two bad tee shots and all of a sudden Stephen wins three on the spin and it's back to grinding again.
“These group stages can be kind of a little bit banana skins and you sort of knuckle down and get through and get into the real stuff this weekend.”
McDowell, the 2012 runner-up, also spoke of his relief at closing out his opening group ties in relatively concise fashion.
“You certainly want to conserve energy,” he reflected. “You want to get into the weekend first and foremost but you want to be trying to stay fresh. This golf course is reasonably demanding physically but we are getting lots of cart rides out there so it’s not too bad.
“There are 36 holes a day for the next two days if you want to go all the way and you have to take that into account. I'll sleep well tonight and hopefully be ready for a big day tomorrow.”
Friday morning results:
Brett Rumford def. Jamie Donaldson, 5&3
Scott Jamieson def. Carl Pettersson, 1 hole
Francesco Molinari def. Felipe Aguilar, 4&3
Nicolas Colsaerts def. Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 3&2
Richard Sterne def. Geoff Ogilvy, 5&4
George Coetzee def. Shane Lowry, 3&2
Thongchai Jaidee def. Thomas Aiken, 1 hole
Chris Wood def. Stephen Gallacher, 2&1
Friday afternoon results:
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano def. Brett Rumford, 3&2
Scott Jamieson def. Thorbjorn Olesen, 5&3
Felipe Aguilar def. Henrik Stenson, 3&1
Branden Grace vs. Kiradech Aphibarnrat, halved
Bo Van Pelt vs. Geoff Ogilvy, halved
Shane Lowry def. Peter Hanson, 5&4
Thomas Aiken def. Ian Poulter, 1 hole
Graeme McDowell def. Stephen Gallacher, 4&2