Sunday 20 January 2019

'Tired' McIlroy to rest up ahead of tilt at the Masters

McIlroy will now focus on Augusta
McIlroy will now focus on Augusta

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy blamed tiredness and turned his attention to the Masters after he crashed out to Brian Harman in the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas.

The world No 7 lost 5 and 3 and confessed that ending his 18-month winless streak at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last Sunday left him mentally spent. He had no response to an impressive Harman, who plays fellow left-hander Bubba Watson in the last 16.

"That takes it out of you - being in contention and all that mental energy," McIlroy said, putting some ragged play at Austin Country Club down to fatigue.

"I wish I was hanging around for the weekend but I'll rest up and get a little bit of work in before going to Augusta."

While McIlroy's stunning Bay Hill heroics were a boost to his confidence ahead of the Masters, they proved to be a double-edged sword.

"Yeah, it was tiring," he said. "And obviously going from winning on Sunday to travelling on Monday, and getting an early practice on Tuesday to play on Wednesday, I didn't have a lot of time to recharge the batteries.

"I feel like my game is in good shape. I got off to a bit of a scrappy start today.

"I was two-under on the back nine and trying to press, and Brian just played really, really well. He made a few birdies and didn't really make a mistake."

McIlroy was two down after finding two hazards in his first five holes and Harman's deadly approach play and solid putting did the rest.

The American (31) made four birdies in five holes from the ninth to be four up, losing only the par-five 12th when he found a water hazard trying to match McIlroy's stunning approach to 17 feet.

"I've played with Rory enough times to know I can't keep up with him off the tee," Harman said. "But I can hit it plenty long enough to be aggressive."

"Rory started playing a little bit better on the back nine but I was able to make some birdies and keep the momentum going. Rory is an intimidating guy. He hits it a mile. Especially what he did last week."

Charles Howell III takes on Kiradech Aphibarnrat while Kyle Stanley will play Sergio Garcia after beating Paul Casey in a playoff.

Justin Thomas meets Si Woo Kim while England's Tyrrell Hatton beat Brendan Steele in a playoff and now faces Australian Cameron Smith.

Sweden's Alex Noren birdied the last three holes to beat Tony Finau 1 up for the right to take on Patrick Reed, who saw off Jordan Spieth 2 and 1. Ian Poulter also advanced when Kevin Chappell, three down after eight and suffering from a back injury, conceded the match.

In the Dominican Republic, Seamus Power eagled his 16th hole and carded a five-under 67 to lie tied sixth, just four shots behind American Brice Garnett in the PGA Tour's Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.

Garnett shot a 68 to lead by a stroke from compatriots Steve Wheatcroft and Keith Mitchell on 13-under with Paul Dunne tied 14th, six behind on seven-under after a 70 as Graeme McDowell added a four-over 76 to his first round 70 to miss the cut by three.

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo propped up the field after rounds of 77 and 82.

On the Challenge Tour, five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey is six shots off the pace at halfway in the Barclays Kenya Open at Muthaiga Country Club in Nairobi.

He followed his opening 66 with a one-over 72 to share 15th on four-under-par behind German teenager Max Schmitt (19), who fired a second round 65 to lead by two from Norway's Kristian Krogh Johannessen on 10-under par.

West Waterford's Gary Hurley is tied 31st on two-under after a 69 with Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin is a shot further back after a 70.

Mount Juliet's Gavin Moynihan missed the one-over par cut by two strokes after a 73 with Derry's Ruaidhri McGee seven-over after a 74.

  • Dell Technologies Match Play, live, Sky Sports, 2.0

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