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McDowell begins World Match Play defense with win

ASH, England (AP) — Defending champion Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson began the World Match Play Championship with comfortable wins on Wednesday, three weeks after teaming up as one of Europe’s top pairings in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

McDowell had a 3-and-2 victory over Alexander Levy, who won the Portugal Masters on Sunday, and Dubuisson beat Pablo Larrazabal by the same score in the first of three group matches at The London Club in southeast England.

“Historically in this event the last couple of years I have been getting off to slow starts and you don’t want to put yourself in the hole against good players,” said McDowell, who was 4 up after 10 holes against Levy in the first match of the day. “So a good start for me was key. … I got going with the putter and was able to build a winning lead.”

Henrik Stenson, at No. 5 the highest-ranked player in the 16-man field, halved his match with George Coetzee of South Africa. Two other members of Europe’s Ryder Cup winning team, Stephen Gallacher and Jamie Donaldson, lost to Shane Lowry and Paul Casey, respectively.

Patrick Reed, the U.S. team’s top points scorer in Gleneagles, opened with a 2-and-1 loss to Jonas Blixt.

Reed won 3

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