McIlroy’s title dreams sink as rain washes World Golf Final
BELEK, Antalya - Agence France-Presse
Northern Irish superstar Rory McIlroy loses both of his opening matches and becomes the first big-name casualty at the inaugural Turkish Airlines World Golf Final. Reuters photoRory McIlroy was knocked out of contention on a rain-lashed day at the World Golf Final yesterday and can only hope to restore pride when he tackles Tiger Woods in today’s third round.
The pair were due to meet yesterday, but the encounter was pushed back a day after a fierce electrical storm began lashing the Atalya Golf Club in Belek, Turkey, forcing afternoon play to be abandoned.
In any case, McIlroy cannot progress to the semi-finals of the $5.2 million event after losing his second match to former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
McIlroy’s level-par round of 71 left him a stroke behind the South African, the Northern Irishman having already left organisers red-faced after losing his first-round encounter to American Matt Kuchar.
In a near duplication of the final round of the 2011 Masters, Schwartzel birdied three of his closing four holes to come from behind to beat McIlroy before the rain came down on Wednesday.
“I played a bit better than yesterday (Oct. 8) but then Charl birdied three of the last four holes and you can’t really do much about that,” said McIlroy, who is assured of a $300,000 prize cheque even if he loses to Woods, while a win would see him presented with $450,000.
“So in my match now against Tiger, I will be out to get back a bit of pride and at least leave here winning one match.
“It will be exciting to play against him as he still has the chance to go through, so he will be looking to win his match.
“I now don’t have much to play for so I would like to beat him so he doesn’t go through to the semi-finals and also get some bragging rights.
“Of course, there is always an added edge when you play against a player like Tiger, and there were a few chances this year when we could have gone head-to-head in the bigger tournaments, but it didn’t quite happen.
“So I am still looking forward to next season when he can go head-to-head down the stretch. And bragging rights from this week will help a little bit.” Woods, meanwhile, shot a four-under-par 67 to defeat Ryder Cup colleague and world number 15 Kuchar by five strokes.
In other round two matches on yesterday morning, Justin Rose defeated fellow Englishman Lee Westwood with a round of 66 to Westwood’s 69.
Reigning US Open champion Webb Simpson recorded his first win in the event and left Hunter Mahan winless with a score of 65 to Mahan’s 67.
The threat of thunderstorms forced all the scheduled afternoon matches to be pushed back to today.
The leading two players in each group will advance to tomorrow’s semifinal. The fifth- and sixth-place finishers will each receive $450,000, while seventh and eighth receive $300,000.
Turkey will host its first European Tour PGA event with next year’s Turkish Golf Open, the sport’s national chief announced yesterday.
“I am proud to announce that the first European Tour PGA event will take place in Turkey in November 2013,” said Ahmet Ağaoğlu, the chairman of the Turkish Golf Federation.
The new tournament will have prize money of $7 million and will become the penultimate event on the European Tour schedule, and will be held for at least its first three years in Belek.
Meanwhile, Ağaoğlu yesterday said he is sorry for headbutting a cameraman on the first day of the World Golf Final.
“While organizing such tournaments I shouldn’t have to be there, but I am trying to make everything so perfect,” he said to English daily The Guardian. “It was unlucky it happened and I will given a written apology because one way or another it was not nice.”