Monday 24 September 2018

McIlroy ready for rest but remains in Match Play hunt

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy beat Jhonattan Vegas 2&1 to keep his hopes of back to back tournament wins alive in WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Texas.

After losing to Peter Uihlein on Wednesday, the world number seven's destiny is now back in his own hands.

Left-hander Brian Harman, who halved with Vegas on day one, did McIlroy a favour by beating Uihlein 3 and 2 in the other match in the group.

If McIlroy beats Harman today, he is guaranteed a playoff at worst and might even win the group and go straight into Saturday's knockout phase for the last 16, depending on how Uihlein fares against Vegas.

"At least it's brought things back into my own hands, which is nice. I didn't want to have to rely on others," said McIlroy

One up after two, he lost the seventh to a par but won the eighth in regulation figures, then birdied the ninth to turn two up.

After extending his lead to three holes with a birdie at the 13th, he lost the par-five 16th to birdie but closed out the match at the short 17th.

While he refused to blame fatigue and Sunday's dramatic win for his defeat to Uihlein, he admitted he needs a rest as he's playing his sixth event in seven weeks.

"I'm looking forward to hopefully getting through to the weekend here and putting the clubs away for a few days before getting ready for Augusta," McIlroy (right) added.

McIlroy might still be alive but defending champion and world number one Dustin Johnson cannot qualify for the last 16 after his 4 and 3 defeat to Canadian Adam Hadwin.

Elsewhere, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed will face off for a place in the knockout stage while Ian Poulter, who needs to reach the last eight to qualify for the Masters, beat Daniel Berger 2 and 1 to remain on course.

"I absolutely hate losing with a passion," said Poulter, who will progress if he beats Kevin Chappell. "In fact it makes me want to vomit."

At the PGA Tour's Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, Greystones' Paul Dunne is tied for 10th after opening with an immaculate, five-under 67.

He's just four shots behind American Brice Garnett, who shot a nine-under 63 to lead by a stroke from compatriot Corey Conners with Seamus Power tied 16th after a 68 and Graeme McDowell joint 37th after a 70.

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (37) posted a roller coaster 77, turning in level par before dropping five shots in a four-hole stretch on the back nine.

He matched England's Brian Davis, Robert Gamez and Keith Clearwater and beat former PGA Tour winners DA Points and Guy Boros by one to share 127th in the 132-strong field.

"I hit a lot of good shots and ended up a couple times in some poor spots," Romo said. "We had it going for a little bit. We were close."

On the Challenge Tour, five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey made seven birdies in a five-under 66 to lie just one stroke behind England's Max Orrin and Scot Ross Kellett in the €500,000 Barclays Kenya Open.

The Ballymoney man (39) knows that a win in the season-opening event would put his three-quarters of the way towards earning one of 15 European Tour cards awarded to the leading money winners at the end of the season.

Kellett (30) made two eagles and four birdies in a 65 to set the pace on six-under at Nairobi's Muthaiga Golf Club before England's Orrin (23), joined him at the top after a seven-birdie round.

Hoey is tied for third with seven-time Sunshine Tour winner Jaco Ahlers and Sweden's Simon Forsstrom.

But it was more of a struggle for the rest of the Irish with Team Ireland's Gary Hurley and Cormac Sharvin 53rd after level-par 71s.

Mount Juliet's Gavin Moynihan is 71st after a one-over 72 with Derry's Ruaidhri McGee 108th after a 74.

WGC-Dell Match Play,

Live, Sky Sports Golf, 6.0pm

Irish Independent

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