McIlroy and Woods on brink of exit
Published 09/10/2012 | 16:38
The eagerly-anticipated clash between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods could be rendered meaningless after both lost their opening matches at the £3.2million Turkish Airlines World Golf Final.
McIlroy lost by six shots to Matt Kuchar after an amazing run of triple-bogey, double-bogey, double-bogey from the 15th, while Woods lost by one to Charl Schwartzel after a bogey on the 18th.
The world's top two players are scheduled to face each other in the final match of Group One on Wednesday afternoon, but defeats for McIlroy to Schwartzel and Woods to Ryder Cup team-mate Kuchar in the morning would mean both players could not reach Thursday's semi-finals regardless of the result between them.
In regular match play, McIlroy's seven at the 15th might not have been so costly, but with this week's format being medal match play - where the lowest 18-hole total wins one point - the 23-year-old admitted he "gave up a bit" after going three strokes behind with three to play.
"I was playing pretty well until the 15th, then hit a loose tee shot there and was messing about in the trees and making seven," said the world number one. "Then I hit it into the hazard on 16 and was just trying to get the round done. I lost a bit of concentration, went a few behind and gave up a bit.
"If it was a different format and a different tournament it might not have got as out of control as it did, but that's just the way it is.
"But it's fine. I know what I need to do tomorrow. I need to go out and win both of my matches and see if that's good enough. In a way it could be a blessing that I'm not complacent and I go out and give it my best."
Woods was two under par after eight holes but ran up a triple-bogey seven on the ninth. The 14-time major winner fought back with birdies on the 14th, 16th and 17th - the latter taking him level after Schwartzel bogeyed - only to bogey the last after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
Asked about the prospect of facing McIlroy on Wednesday afternoon, Woods said: "I have to take care of my match and we'll see in the afternoon. We have to both win in the morning. We're the two highest ranked players in the world right now and it will be a fun match either way, but it will obviously be a lot better if we both win in the morning."
In Group Two, Justin Rose beat Hunter Mahan by four shots and Lee Westwood beat Webb Simpson by one after the US Open champion bogeyed the 18th.