Rory McIlroy off to a flyer in Texas but disappointment for Shane Lowry
Rory McIlroy got the fast start he craved but Shane Lowry desperately needs a win after falling to Sergio Garcia in his opening group match in the WGC Dell Technologies Championship in Texas.
As world No 48 Lowry fell 4&2 to the Spaniard with only the top 50 qualifying for the Masters on Sunday night, McIlroy made six putts outside six feet en route to a 5&4 win over Luke List.
The Holywood star had lost his opening group match in his previous two starts at Austin Country Club and failed to make the weekend knockout stages.
But he gave List little chance last night despite not playing his very best golf, turning two up before closing out a comfortable win with birdies at the 13th and 14th.
"Luke let me away with a couple," said McIlroy, who made a 20 footer for bogey at the ninth that proved good enough for a crucial half before closing out the match with a brace of eight footers.
"We both bogeyed the seventh hole and then I was messing around on nine and holed a 20 footer for a bogey.
"It was important to make him hole his putt to win the hole and luckily for me he missed his and I played a good back nine and made two good birdies to close it out."
It was a different story for Lowry who is one of 11 players in the field who has yet to secure his Masters place.
He must remain in the top 50 on Monday to secure his ticket to Augusta but while he's projected to rise to 46th given the vagaries of the system, he's still vulnerable if players from outside the top 50 have a good week.
A win against Patrick Reed today would be worth its weight in gold but he needs to improve on his recent form since following his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship win with three missed cuts in his last four starts.
Louis Oosthuizen lost 3 and 2 to Kyle Stanley but confirmed he'll prepare for The Open at Royal Portrush by playing the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch
"I'm really looking forward to getting back to Ireland and playing links golf again," said Oosthuizen, who last played the Irish Open in 2009.
"I'll spend the week playing links golf, the week in between taking a break with the family, drive around Ireland, go along the West coast all the way up to Portrush."
Europe's bid for a fourth win in a row on US soil began well with Danes Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjorn Olesen beating Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson.
Tommy Fleetwood defeated Ben An 3&2, Ian Poulter saw off Kevin Kisner by two holes and Valspar Championship winner Paul Casey cruised to a 5&4 win over Abraham Ancer.
Open champion Francesco Molinari beat Satoshi Kodaira 5&4, Justin Rose saw off Emiliano Grillo 2&1 and Henrik Stenson edged out Phil Mickelson 2&1 in the "Group of Death" where Jim Furyk came back from three down after eight to beat Jason Day two up.
Tiger Woods had to dig deep to beat Aaron Wise 3&1 as Jordan Spieth came back from two down after 15 holes to snatch a half with Billy Horschel.
Graeme McDowell would prefer to be in Austin, but he sees this week's Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship as a golden opportunity to end his near three-and-a-half year drought.
"I feel like I am on the cusp of really playing well again," said the world 257, who is joined in the Dominican Republic by Paul Dunne and Seamus Power, who tied for fifth last year.
"If was to win here this week, it would give me a massive leapfrog forward. I am not underestimating the importance of a week like this."
On the LPGA Tour, Stephanie Meadow tees it up in the Kia Classic in Carlsbad needing a top finish to qualify for next week's ANA Inspiration.
Leona Maguire plays the Symetra Tour's IOA Championship at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa tomorrow with a new sponsor.
Fifth in her last start, the Co Cavan star and her twin sister Lisa join Dunne as ambassadors for wealth management providers Davy.
WGC-Dell Match Play
Sky Sports Golf 6.0pm
Featured groups, 2.15pm
Hero Indian Open
Sky Sports Golf, 6.0am