McIlroy and Tiger out in first round
MARANA, Arizona (AFP) – World number one Rory McIlroy and 14-time major champion Tiger Woods were toppled in the first round Thursday in the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry, ranked 68th in the world and the 64th-seed in the 64-man field, defeated Northern Ireland’s McIlroy 1-up, while Charles Howell defeated Woods 2 and 1 at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club course at Dove Mountain.
Lowry, McIlroy’s friend from their days in the amateur ranks, made his run on the back nine, chipping in for birdie to win the 12th hole and winning the 13th with an eagle to gain a two-up advantage.
McIlroy pulled one back at 14, but conceded the 15th after finding a series of bunkers. He then birdied the par-three 16th for a win, but they halved the last two holes with pars, and Lowry emerged victorious.
Lowry was in a fairway bunker off the tee at 18, and a greenside bunker with his second shot. McIlroy couldn’t take advantage, however, hitting his second shot into the same greenside bunker.
McIlroy’s bunker shot rolled within inches of the cup and was conceded par. Lowry blasted out to four feet and rolled in the match winner.
Neither Howell nor Woods made a bogey in their match, which ended with darkness closing in.
Howell never trailed after going 1-up with a birdie at the second. Woods squared the match with a birdie at the fifth, but Howell edged ahead at the eighth. Woods won the 13th with a birdie, but Howell regained a 1-up lead with a birdie at the 15th and held on.
He stretched his lead with a birdie to win 16. Woods couldn’t birdie 17, and Howell’s two-putt par gave him the win.
Woods, winner of this event in 2003, 2004 and 2008, has now failed to get out of the first round three times in his career, but said he couldn’t complain about his game.
The round was continued from Wednesday, when a freak snowstorm in the Arizona desert cut short play. Thursday’s start was delayed for several hours.
Two matches were halted by darkness. Sweden’s Carl Pettersson was 1-up against Rickie Fowler through 17 holes with the winner to face Lowry.
Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Italian Francesco Molinari were all-square through 15, with the winner to face Howell.