But Kjeldsen, one half of the successful Danish team at the World Cup at Kingston Heath a year ago, is a tenacious competitor and quickly squared the match again at the 5. In the WGC's previous guise, the defeat to Kjeldsen would have been enough to send him home. "I was not ready to pick up a club and play".
"Soren played great", McIlroy said.
"Family is first and it's just - it's just a hard time".
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"His wedge play was razor sharp and he didn't miss a single makeable putt".
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Day was the defending champion after rolling through seven matches, with only one of them - the semifinal match against Rory McIlroy - reaching the 18th hole. The hometown kid could muster only two birdies on the day to three bogeys. McIlroy recovered to be ahead by the 5th tee but Kjeldsen battled back to have an advantage at the turn.
McIlroy looked to be on course for victory against Soren Kjeldsen when he overturned a two-hole deficit with three birdies in a row from the 11th, only for the 41-year-old Dane to birdie the next four holes to win 2&1. Parity was restored on 14.
But Kjeldsen then got back to all-square with a birdie at five and went 2up on the World No. 2 with a par at nine and a sinking a 30-footer at the par three 11th. They were the only two Australians in the 64-man field.
"My record in this tournament is bad", Kjeldsen said. "I guess it's his favorite course". But the last few weeks I've been getting better. I think the US Open is probably one and this was one. "I played really, really well".
"I knew I had to shoot a good score to have any kind of chance and I managed to do that". "I'm going to have a good week of practice after this and hopefully I will be ready for The Masters". "He's a pretty spectacular player so you don't want to watch him too much".
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Not that McIlroy was the only high-profile casualty on day one. Jordan Spieth (5) lost on the 16th hole to Hideto Tanihara, who was making his Match Play debut. "It probably would have been".
Wolfe also was fined $65,000, and Team Penske was docked 35 driver and owner points. Later, he tried to provide context. "And I know how it feels", Day said. "I got into my little zone".
Bubba Watson, Thomas Pieters, Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer all won.
Other big names notching victories were American world No.7 Justin Thomas, who beat Chris Wood 2 and 1, while five-time major victor Phil Mickelson smashed Si Woo Kim 5 and 3.
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