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Ian Poulter has branded the format for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play “annoying”, admitting that he would prefer a return to the tournament’s previous structure.

Poulter, 45, got his week in Austin off to a perfect start as he defeated four-time major champion Rory McIlroy 6&5 in his opening match.

The thumping defeat of his Ryder Cup teammate was, in part, down to McIlroy’s error-strewn round, which included his tee shot at the fifth hole ending up in a nearby residential swimming pool.

Poulter capitalised on the Northern Irishman’s travails and pressed home his advantage, which brought the match to a conclusion on the 13th green.

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Despite his strong start to the event, Poulter admitted to having reservations about the current set-up of the tournament. Since 2015, it has comprised a round-robin group stage followed by a head-to-head knockout, rather than just a straight knockout as was the case prior to that.

“I prefer the old way, to be honest,” said the 12-time European Tour winner .

“It’s really simple. The simplicity of win your match or go home I think is the right way to play. A couple of years ago, I beat Kevin Kisner in my first match and two days later we’re heading off in a playoff to get out of the group and he beats me and goes on to win.

“So, I’ve just technically beaten the guy that wins the tournament. It’s a bit annoying, to be honest with you.”


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He added: “This group format gets a little funky. When there’s a couple of scenarios that can happen in these group matches which, if you’re in a position where you can’t advance, are you really trying really hard? I’m not really sure.

“The sponsors pay big money and the sponsors want the players here for as many days as possible, so they have the right to do that and I am not saying it’s right or wrong, but I think there’s a number of players that would like it back to the old way, where if you lose, you go home.”

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