The snow is gone from the Match Play Championship, and so are Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
In Marana, Ariz., on Thursday, Shane Lowry of Ireland made a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole to eliminate McIlroy in the opening round.
It was the third time in the last four years the No. 1 seed went home after one round.
Moments later, Charles Howell III finished off a fabulous round in cold conditions by defeating Woods on the 17th.
The match was all square when Howell hit a wedge that stopped inches from the cup on the 15th hole for a conceded birdie. Then, he holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th, and went 2 up when Woods badly missed a 12-foot birdie putt.
‘‘I had nothing to lose,’’ said Howell, who started the year outside the top 100 in the world and hasn’t qualified for this World Golf Championship in five years. ‘‘In this format, match play is crazy. He’s Tiger Woods. I was lucky to hang in there.’’
The final matches were played in near darkness, and they could have stopped after 15 holes. Woods wanted to play on, even though Howell had the momentum. Woods was 2 under for the day, and neither of them made a bogey.
‘‘We both played well,’’ Woods said. ‘‘He made a couple of more birdies than I did. He played well, and he’s advancing.’’
McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, built a 2-up lead early in the match until Lowry rallied and grabbed the moment by chipping in for birdie on the par-3 12th and then ripping a fairway metal to within a few feet for a conceded eagle on the 13th.
Lowry missed a short par putt on the 14th, only for McIlroy to give away the next hole with a tee shot into the desert and a bunker shot that flew over the 15th green and into a cactus. But the two-time major champion hung tough, coming up with a clutch birdie on the 16th to stay in the game.
McIlroy nearly holed his bunker on the 18th, and Lowry followed with a steady shot out to 4 feet and calmly sank the putt.
‘‘Deep down, I knew I could beat him,’’ Lowry said. ‘‘There’s a reason I’m here, and this is match play.’’
Luke Donald nearly made it the top three seeds except for a clutch performance. He holed a 10-foot birdie putt to halve the 17th hole and stay tied with Marcel Siem of Germany. Donald then birdied the 18th from 7 feet to win the match.
Louis Oosthuizen, the No. 4 seed, rallied to get past Richie Ramsay of Scotland.
LPGA — Stacy Lewis shot a 9-under 63 in the first round to take a three-stroke lead at the LPGA Thailand in Chonburi. The 2012 Player of the Year birdied the last two holes to finish three strokes ahead of Karine Icher (66).