LOTHIANS star Stephen Gallacher will tackle Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter in the first round of the WGC- Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona on Wednesday.
With Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker pulling out of the first of this season’s world championships, Gallacher, winner of the Dubai Desert Classic a fortnight ago, was in line to clash with American Jason Dufner. That changed when Fredrik Jacobson, last man in as replacement for the injured Snedeker, finished joint-third at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles last night.
This moved up the Swede the world rankings from 66th into the top 50, leaving Gallacher to face Poulter instead.
It’s a daunting baptism in the event for the Bathgate man as Poulter has a fearsome match-play record.
He won this event three years ago at the same venue, beating compatriot Paul Casey in the final.
And, in last year’s Ryder Cup, Poulter’s heroic five birdies in the final five holes on the Saturday afternoon proved the catalyst for Europe pulling off a dramatic victory at Medinah.
As expected, Paul Lawrie, another member of that team in Chicago, will be up against Scott Piercy, winner of last year’s Canadian Open.
Instead of Aussie ace Adam Scott, Richie Ramsay, the third Scot in the field, will now take on former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
World No.1 Rory McIlroy faces Shane Lowry in one of two all-Irish affairs, the other seeing Graeme McDowell lock horns with Padraig Harrington.
Second-ranked Tiger Woods will now meet his former Presidents Cup partner Charles Howell III.