Rory McIlroy will not stimulate the final 16 of the WGC Match Play Championship after he was knocked out on Thursday without hitting a ball as his foe Gary Woodland withdrew
Rory McIlroy must hope his quota of 2017 adversity has now been used up. The rib injury which disrupted the initial stages of his Masters preparation might be consigned to history but there was further cause for McIlroy to question whatever happened to the luck of the Irish on Thursday, as Gary Woodlands withdrawal from the WGC Match Play Championship coupled with the later victory for Soren Kjeldsen entailed the four-time major winner was eradicated without reaching a single shoot in anger.
It will barely improve McIlroys mood that he must face Emiliano Grillo in a Friday dead rubber. Weather disruption has been predicted, as if for good measure. If McIlroy dons a Green Jacket a fortnight on Sunday, he truly will have enjoyed the last laugh.
Only half an hour before McIlroy was due to face Woodland, news emanated that the American had pulled out of the tournament. A statement from Woodlands management company cited a personal family situation. McIlroy was duly awarded a walkover but the key element was Kjeldsen benefiting from the same on Friday. If Kjeldsen could procure at the least a halved match with Grillo, the inspired Dane having beaten McIlroy on day one, his progress from Group 2 was certain.
Unsurprisingly in gusting conditions of more than 30 mph, Kjeldsen prevailed by 4& 3. Perhaps McIlroy should look on the bright side; he will now be afforded a quieter time in the immediate lead-up to the Masters than has historically been the case. Freshness should come naturally. The alternative, worrying aspect is attached to McIlroy potentially lacking competitive golf.
Sergio Garca enjoyed a more fruitful Thursday, his victory over Kevin Chappell meaning a Spanish combat to reach the last 16 against Jon Rahm on day three. Rahm, whose star is on the rapid rise, defeated Shane Lowry 2& 1.
Bubba Watson bounced back to prominence on day two here with a 4& 3 win over Scott Piercy, during which he birdied six of the opening 12 holes. Afterwards Watson explained how a winter fitness drive he has limited sugar in his diet had unforeseen consequences. His 2017 form has been notably poor.
The adjustment has been losing about 20 lb and get out of whack with ball stance, with everything, chipping, putting, driving, irons, everything, Watson told. A light went off last week and we figured it out. I played good on Sunday, worked on it hard the coming week and were on the right track right now.
I still have sugar, natural sugar, I feed fruit and all those things. Im just trying to cut out and eat cleanser, get in better shape so I can walk up these hills every once in a while. I went to Augusta a week ago and practised for got a couple of days. It all comes down to ball-striking. It doesnt matter what your form is. I can win every tournament leading up to the Masters, that doesnt mean youre going to play good at the Masters.
Result of the day, perhaps, belonged to the US Ryder Cup captain, Jim Furyk, as he defeated Louis Oosthuizen 3& 2. The South African has a terrific match-play record and reached the final here 12 months ago. You know youve got your hands full when you are playing against him, said Furyk. He made some mistakes today. I didnt ensure Louis at his best.
Ross Fishers victory over Hideki Matsuyama was significant with the Masters in intellect. Fisher is seeking to gain enough world ranking phases this week to earn an invitation to Augusta. On Friday he will face Furyk, whom he defeated in the World Match Play of 2009. Patently I know Jim very well, Fisher told. Hes such a gritty challenger, very solid. He doesnt attain many mistakes. Its going to be a tough game. If I want to win, I have to play very, very well.
The world No1, Dustin Johnson, seeking a third tournament victory in a row, ensure off Martin Kaymer 3& 2. Matthew Fitzpatrick emerged victorious from an all-English clash with Chris Wood and Phil Mickelson dismissed Daniel Berger 5& 4. Danny Willetts poor operate continued as he was humbled 6& 5 by Bill Haas.
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