Rory McIlroy and Gary Woodland to renew matchplay rivalry in Austin
Shane Lowry drawn to face leading Spanish duo in WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Rory McIlroy during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando on Sunday. Photograph: AP
Rory McIlroy is relishing the prospect of displaying a ruthless streak as he seeks a second WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play title this week.
McIlroy returned to second in the world rankings by finishing tied for fourth in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, his third top-seven finish from three events in an injury-affected season.
And the four-time major winner would like nothing more than to regain the trophy he won in 2015 in his final competitive outing before next month’s Masters, where he will attempt to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in completing the career grand slam.
“I feel I can wear my opponents down just by hitting quality golf shots and sort of mentally beating them by them saying to themselves, this guy isn’t going to miss a shot today, so I better be on my game. So I think that makes a good match player,” McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference.
The Irishman has been drawn to face the man he beat in the 2015 final, American Gary Woodland, as well as Emiliano Grillo and Soren Kjeldsen in the group stages at Austin Country Club.
The 27-year-old reached the semi-finals 12 months ago before losing by one hole to eventual champion Jason Day and is in favour of the round-robin format which sees group matches played on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The winner of each group advances to the last 16 on Saturday morning, with the quarter-finals on Saturday afternoon and the semi-finals and final held on Sunday.
The top 64 in the world rankings qualify for the £7.8million event, but Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose have all opted not to compete, while in-form Canadian Adam Hadwin is getting married.
First round tee times (starting at hole one):
2.52pm - Rory McIlroy, Soren Kjeldsen (Den)
8pm - Sergio Garcia (Spa), Shane Lowry
6.43pm - Jon Rahm (Spa), Shane Lowry
7.16pm - Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland (USA)
4.31pm - Kevin Chappell (USA), Shane Lowry
5.04pm - Rory McIlroy, Emiliano Grillo (Arg)