By Mark Lamport-Stokes
MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - Ian Poulter had never seen anything quite like it on a golf course, and being hit with a snowball hurled by a fellow player summed up a bizarre day at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday.
Champion here in 2010, Poulter was 3up on fellow Briton Steven Gallacher after 12 holes in their first-round match when play was abandoned due to a blanket of snow at Dove Mountain.
"It's been a few years since I've seen snow to be honest with you," Poulter told reporters with a smile before making his way back to his hotel.
"Have a few weeks off at Christmas, relax and come back. This kind of makes it feel very Christmasy all of a sudden. It's bizarre, pretty amazing. Two inches of snow, maybe more. Incredible."
Poulter was amused to watch several caddies throw snowballs at one another before he was on the receiving end of one chucked by Swede Peter Hanson, who had not yet started his first-round match.
"I'm like an elephant; I will not forget," Poulter said while promising to seek revenge against Hanson. "I can't tell you what they will be, but there'll definitely be something. Revenge is sweet."
Poulter, who beat fellow Englishman Paul Casey 4&2 in the 2010 Match Play final to claim his first World Golf Championships (WGC) title, was stunned by how quickly the weather changed on Wednesday.
"It's absolutely remarkable to think one minute we're playing golf, albeit it's a little cool, and then within a space of 25 minutes, it turns from playable to cold drizzle to sleet and to snow," the 37-year-old said.
"And within an hour and a half of all that starting, you've got two inches of snow on the ground. It's just bizarre."
Poulter, who is renowned for his matchplay grit and superb putting, was all square with Gallacher after five holes, then went 1up when his opponent three-putted the par-three sixth
He also won the eighth and 10th, after being conceded both holes by the Scot, to take control of the match before play was called off for the day.
"I'm in a nice position ... albeit Stephen has got a 15-foot birdie putt to win the (13th) hole and to probably take it 2 down," Poulter said.
"I'm in the driving seat, I'd like to get out there tomorrow morning and finish the job off, concentrate on the holes I've got to play and see what comes after that."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Steve Keating)