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McIlroy has China in his hands as he sees off Woods

Rory McIlroy shot a five-under 67 to beat Tiger Woods by one stroke in a head-to-head, 18-hole exhibition match between the world's two top-ranked golfers at the Jinsha Lake Golf Club in central China today.

McIlroy, the World No. 1, took an early lead with two birdies on the first three holes and held on to beat Woods, who had two bogeys to go along with his six birdies for the day. The 14-time major winner finished with a 68.

Both players had to make long journeys to Zhengzhou, an industrial city in China's Henan province, after competing elsewhere yesterday. McIlroy finished second to Peter Hanson in the European Tour's BMW Masters at Shanghai, while Woods tied for fourth in the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

The 18-hole medal-match, dubbed "Duel at Jinsha Lake," marked the first time the two golfers had played head-to-head without other competitors.

Meanwhile, American Nick Watney ended an eventful week in Malaysia with a brilliant 61 and a one-stroke victory at the CIMB Classic, leaving Woods in joint fourth place after he closed with a 63. Watney's opening 71 finished with his wife Amber carrying the bag after his caddie suffered heatstroke, but from eight strokes behind the 31-year-old powered his way back, and had a chance to round things off with a 59.



Magical

Like Bo Van Pelt the day before, Watney stood on the final tee at The Lakes in Kuala Lumpur needing a birdie for the magical mark.

Van Pelt had double-bogeyed, but although Watney was disappointed when he came up short of the green and failed to get up and down, the bogey proved good enough to give him the winner's cheque of £807,000 with a 22-under-par total of 262.

Joint second were defending champion Van Pelt and Robert Garrigus, the former having cause to rue the 18th again when he failed to make the birdie he required for a play-off.

Woods was only two behind after going to the turn in 30 for the second day running, but only two more birdies on the inward half were never likely to be enough and he finished three back.


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