By Steve Elling
MARANA, Ariz. -- OK, so the opponent was Ernie Els, a former world No. 1 and a seven-time winner at the European Tour's match-play event.
Defending champion Luke Donald would have had trouble beating practically anybody in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday.
"I don't think it would have mattered who I played today," said Donald, the top-seeded player in the field and the current world No. 1. "I just didn't play well."
He didn't play long, either.
Els hammered Donald, 5 and 4, closing out the defending champion with four birdies in their 14 holes, though that wasn;t so much the determining factor.
Donald, one of themost unerring players of the era, was all over the map and made four bogeys, making it easy for the Big Easy.
"I'm not sure where to start," Donald said. "I just didn't play well. It's disappointing. I;ve been working really hard.To lose control of the golf ball like I did today is really frustrating."
It marked the third time in event history that the No. 1 overall seed was kicked to the curb on the first day of play, with Donald joining early departures Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.
Given the seeding and ranking, it lends new meaning to "one and done."
"I gave away too many holes and made too many mistakes," Donald said. "You can't do that in match play against anyone, let alone Ernie."