Tuesday 15 October 2019

McIlroy to face Woods in last 16 as Lowry eases Masters fears

Tiger Woods plays a shot on the second hole at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship yesterday. Photo: AP
Tiger Woods plays a shot on the second hole at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship yesterday. Photo: AP

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy can earn some redemption and lay down a marker for the Masters when he faces Tiger Woods in a mouth-watering last 16 showdown at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas.

As Shane Lowry secured a 3&2 win over Andrew Putnam that should guarantee his presence at Augusta, McIlroy (29) beat Matthew Fitzpatrick 4&2 as Woods (43) fought back to defeat Patrick Cantlay by the same margin, taking advantage of Brandt Snedeker's defeat to Aaron Wise.

It's the first time they will meet in matchplay combat and McIlroy's looking forward to putting up a better show than he did in the final group at the Tour Championship last year when he shot 74 and Woods cruised to his 80th PGA Tour title.

"I am excited and I am sure he is as well," said McIlroy, who believes he's playing some of the best golf of his career.

"I didn't put up much of a fight in the Tour Championship last year, so hopefully I can give him a better game tomorrow."

He added: "I am going to have to go out there and play my own game and not really look at what he does. And then maybe towards the end of the match somewhere, I am going to have to respond to some of the shots he plays or some of the putts he holes. It's going to be a great match and I am excited."

Woods was two down with ten to go against Cantlay but won six of the next eight holes with the highlight an eagle two from 82 yards at Austin Country Club's 13th.

"We've played tournaments together and battled each other down the stretch in events but never in a matchplay situation," Woods said of today's showdown. "I am sure both of us will be ready for it."

Lowry went out on a high, knocking in three birdies in four holes to beat Putnam 3&2 and ease his worries about falling out of the top 50 and the Masters.

But Jim Furyk won't be there as he lost 5&4 to Henrik Stenson who now faces Lucas Bjerregaard with the winner to face McIlroy or Woods, while Matt Kuchar halved with Jon Rahm and advanced to play Tyrrell Hatton.

Sergio Garcia lost to Patrick Reed 2&1 but topped Lowry's group and meets Branden Grace as world No 1 Dustin Johnson went out, losing 4&2 to Hideki Matsuyama.

In the other half of the draw, Louis Oosthuizen beat Tommy Fleetwood 4&3 and now faces Marc Leishman

In the in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, Greystones' Paul Dunne shot a 69 to lie just one behind clubhouse leader Sungjae Im, who carded a 67, and now he must win in the Dominican Republic to make the Masters field.

Graeme McDowell was two shots further back after bogey-free, eight-under 64 - his lowest PGA Tour round for more than two-and-a-half years.

"It's one of the widest courses I think we'll ever play, so a couple of loose drives that would normally cost me I can get away with here," said Dunne (26), who was tied for second with Jonathan Byrd, Aaron Baddeley and George McNeill on nine-under.

While a top 10 would secure his place in next week's Valero Texas Open, where the winner earns a Masters spot, world number 128 Dunne is not getting ahead of himself.

"If I got in the Top 50 in the world, I would like to play a split schedule," Dunne said. "I wouldn't like to play full-time in America. But I've only played two rounds; it's a long way from Top 50 at the moment."

McDowell, who missed just one green in regulation yesterday after struggling with his irons in an opening 73, was pleased to see promising form reflected on the card.

"We pay all these sports psychs to tell us we've got to stick to the process and not get worried about outcome," McDowell said.

"But outcome matters as well. It's important to get that little bit of feedback that you're on the right track."

It was also a good day for Seamus Power, who made six birdies in a 68 to make the cut with ease on four-under.

At the European Tour's Hero Indian Open, American Julian Suri fired a second consecutive 67 to lead by two strokes on 10-under par in New Delhi from South African George Coetzee and Swede Robert Karlsson.

  • WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Live, Sky Sports, 2pm
  • Hero Indian Open Live, Sky Sports, 6.30am

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