By Tony Jimenez
ASH England (Reuters) - Graeme McDowell made a winning start to his Volvo World Match Play title defense by dispatching Alexander Levy of France 3 & 2 in his opening round-robin group match at the London Club on Wednesday.
Levy, who triumphed at the rain-shortened Portugal Masters last week, was two-under-par for his round but he could not cope with a turbo-charged performance from McDowell who ignored the sopping wet conditions by rattling in seven birdies and only one bogey.
Elsewhere, world number five Henrik Stenson finished all square with South African George Coetzee while Frenchman Victor Dubuisson eased past Spain's Pablo Larrazabal 3 & 2 and Swede Jonas Blixt defeated American Patrick Reed 2 & 1.
Shane Lowry beat Stephen Gallacher 3 & 2 and Paul Casey edged Jamie Donaldson 2 & 1. Thongchai Jaidee was a two-up winner over Francesco Molinari while Joost Luiten squeezed past Mikko Ilonen one-up in a high-quality tussle featuring 12 birdies and one eagle.
McDowell, who eclipsed Thongchai 2 & 1 in last year's final in Bulgaria, said he was particularly pleased with his form on the greens against Levy.
"Alexander is a very good young player but didn't make as many putts as I did," the world number 18 told reporters.
"These greens are outstanding considering how much rain this course has taken. The surfaces here are as good as any you will see -- generally if you hit a good putt it will go in."
(Editing by Toby Davis)