Sport Golf

Saturday 24 March 2018

Off-colour McIlroy pays heavy price for mistakes

Karl MacGinty

IRELAND'S interest in the Accenture Match Play Championship was snuffed out last night as Rory McIlroy fell to England's dogged Ryder Cup star Oliver Wilson on the 20th hole of a second-round match McIlroy could and probably should have won.

For the second day in succession, McIlroy failed to live up to the high standards expected of him. He consistently handed the advantage to Wilson as he spurned a series of gilt-edged opportunities from mid-fairway and lacked consistency around the greens.

The match ended on the par-five second hole at the Ritz-Carlton course after McIlroy's tee shot sailed into a bunker to the left of the fairway, forcing him to lay-up to 142 yards. He then looked on in askance as his approach sucked back off the front of the green.

Outdriven by his Ulster opponent virtually all day, Wilson, nine years McIlroy's senior at age 29, safely found the fairway there, hit his second into greenside rough and very nearly holed an exquisite chip for eagle. The birdie was conceded and handshakes soon followed after McIlroy missed his 17-foot putt from the fringe rough.


Typical of McIlroy's day was his failure to convert a match-winning chance from mid-fairway at 18. Wilson produced the shot of the day to land his approach on the upper level within 20 feet of the pin, while McIlroy left his shot a good 60 feet short on the front tier. Wilson made par easily and the Ulsterman was left with a nerve-wracking eight-footer to send the match into extra-time.

McIlroy was equal to the test there and was unlucky not to finish off Wilson at the first, where his nine-foot putt for birdie and the match appeared to defy gravity as it ran around the rim of the cup.

Wilson certainly will have his hands full against compatriot Luke Donald in today's third round.

Donald was five-under and bogey-free for the 13 holes he played yesterday against Aussie Robert Allenby, bringing his overall tally to 13 birdies in 30 holes over the first two days.

Ranked with Donald as one of the most impressive performers over the first two rounds is Paul Casey, who slammed Mike Weir 5&4 after beating another Canadian, Stephen Ames, by the same margin on Wednesday.

The man crowned champion on Sunday will have won six matches in five days, a punishing regime which favours the man who takes the shortest route through the early rounds.

Irish Independent

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