McIlroy and Woods go out on day of upsets

MARANA – World number one Rory McIlroy and three-times winner Tiger Woods were both sent packing in stunning fashion in the snow-delayed first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday.
Tiger Woods had a poor day at the office, skewing this drive off target. Net photo.
Tiger Woods had a poor day at the office, skewing this drive off target. Net photo.

MARANA – World number one Rory McIlroy and three-times winner Tiger Woods were both sent packing in stunning fashion in the snow-delayed first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday.

Northern Irishman McIlroy, a losing finalist last year, was ousted 1-up by his good friend Shane Lowry of Ireland while Woods was eliminated 2&1 by fellow American Charles Howell in fading light at Dove Mountain.

Once again the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event lived up to its reputation for wild unpredictability and there were 14 upsets from the 30 matches which finished at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

Two matches will have to be completed on Friday, a knock-on effect from Wednesday when just three-and-a-half hours of play was possible because of driving rain, sleet and then snow.

The premature departure of McIlroy in his first PGA Tour appearance of the year was stunning, but Lowry always believed he had the game to pull off an upset win.

“Deep down I knew I could beat him,” the 25-year-old Irishman said after chipping in for birdie at the 11th and 12th to take control of the match. “I’m not here for no reason. I’m not here to make up the numbers.

Woods, Match Play champion in 2003, 2004 and 2008, was eliminated at the first hurdle for a third time at the event.

“I played well, I really did,” said the world number two. “I hit a lot of good shots out there. I didn’t make a bogey out there. Unfortunately it’s the nature of the format, and I’m not advancing.”

Howell, who has played Woods several times in practice, was delighted to beat the former world number one for the first time.

SCRAPING PAST


In other upsets, PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley beat in-form South African Charl Schwartzel 1-up and Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello came from two down with seven holes left to scrape past British world number eight Lee Westwood after 19 holes.

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