McIlroy left with plenty to do
THE ARRIVAL of some of the world’s finest players is a rarity in this corner of Turkey. But not as uncommon as the figures that appeared on a Rory McIlroy scorecard on day one of the World Final.
In something for a golfing quiz book, the world number one was at a loss when trying to recall when he last went on a three-hole run that read: triple bogey, double bogey, double bogey. Or 7-7-5 in more blunt terms.
McIlroy’s uncharacteristic capitulation from the 15th tee meant inevitable defeat by Matt Kuchar in the first round of the inaugural playing of the event. It also meant a frustrating scenario for the tournament’s organisers: one where the meeting of McIlroy and Tiger Woods this afternoon is irrelevant in the context of the eight-man competition.
The odds are also now stacked against McIlroy and Woods, who lost to the South African Charl Schwartzel yesterday, together progressing from their group to the last four.
That, needless to say, did not form part of the grand plan when the medal matchplay format of the World Final was devised.
“There we are all-square with four to go, he hits it right and makes triple-bogey,” said Kuchar. “I go three up with three to go and I think both of us lost a little interest at that point.”
The American’s 70 bettered McIlroy’s 76 by six strokes.
“That was the match basically,” the Northern Irishman said of his seven on the 15th. “I lost a bit of concentration, went a few behind and gave up a bit.
“To go from level to three behind with three to play, then you hit your tee shot left on 16 into the water hazard as well, you resign yourself to losing and getting yourself ready for the next two matches. It could be a blessing, that I’m not going to be complacent. I will go out there and give it my best.”
McIlroy only had his first glance of the Sultan Course yesterday morning. Not even the presence of his girlfriend, tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, for all of 18 holes could boost the McIlroy cause.
Woods’s 70 was one shot more than Schwartzel, with the 36-year-old also racking up a seven, this time on the par-four 9th. “You don’t see Tiger do things like that very often,” the 2011 US Masters winner said.
“That took me from one behind to two ahead.”
Lee Westwood recorded a one-shot victory over Webb Simpson and Justin Rose fared four strokes better than Hunter Mahan.
A principal aim of the World Final is to portray Turkey’s ability to host prominent events in a positive light with its bid for the 2020 Olympics in mind but there was one unusual incident.
Ahmet Agaoglu, the president of the Turkish Golf Federation, has been accused of assaulting a local reporter amid a skirmish on the first tee before Woods’s match. Agaoglu disputes a report in Turkey that he headbutted the reporter and broke his glasses, instead describing the somewhat tawdry affair as a pushing match.
Meanwhile, Lee Westwood has publicly thrown his support behind Darren Clarke’s bid to captain Europe’s Ryder Cup team in 2014. “There are a lot of good candidates but if I were asked to pick, it would be Darren Clarke,” said Westwood.