Rory McIlroy makes plans for a fighting chance at World Match Play

World number one will attend Mayweather-Pacquiao bout in Las Vegas

Rory McIlroy  and  caddie JP Fitzgerald suffer in the cold and foggy conditions during the pro-am  for the World  Match Play  at Harding Park  in San Francisco, California. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy and caddie JP Fitzgerald suffer in the cold and foggy conditions during the pro-am for the World Match Play at Harding Park in San Francisco, California. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

 

To win the WGC-Cadillac Match Play as the world number one, a feat last accomplished by Tiger Woods back in 2008, Rory McIlroy will have to do it the hard way . . . and that includes taking in a planned detour to the boxing blockbuster between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas on Saturday night!

That is, of course, if McIlroy is still involved in the matchplay tournament which has been revamped this year to provide more spice and more matches.

“The event needed something. For whatever reason, it had gotten a little stale,” conceded 2013 US Masters champion Adam Scott, with the championship now being played with 16 groups in round-robin fare with only the group winners advancing into the mano o mano knockout phase which kicks in on Saturday.

Second Captains

McIlroy has a private jet on standby to take him from San Francisco to Vegas – a round trip of 1,140 miles – should be make it to Saturday’s last-16 and subsequent quarter-final phases, with an early-morning return if he is still involved for Sunday’s semi-finals.

Knockout stages

Jason DufnerBrandt Snedeker

McIlroy, who will celebrate his 26th birthday on Monday, has a best finish of second – when runner-up to Hunter Mahan in 2012 – in the WGC-Matchplay. He faces Snedeker tomorrow and finishes off the group phase with an encounter against Horschel on Friday.

The other two Irish golfers in the field go head-to-head in the opening series, with Shane Lowry going up against Graeme McDowell. The other players in their group are Americans Rickie Fowler and Harris English.

Ilonen v Spieth

Mikko IlonenJordan Spieth

The Finn has endured an indifferent season to date but is hoping matching up to Spieth will provide a spark. “It’s matchplay, anything can happen . . . I definitely don’t have anything to lose against Jordan. If you look at how good he has been recently and, as much as I hate to say it, how bad I have been lately, there really is nothing for me to lose,” said Ilonen, adding: “My form has been poor but we know how quickly it can turn in this game and maybe matchplay is what I need to get going.”

The course at Harding Park – which is open to the public all year round – has featured the Presidents Cup in recent years and will play host to the US PGA in five years time. “The greens are a touch slow but the course is in good shape. It might take a beating if 156 players (a tournament norm) were here, but there are only 64 (in the matchplay),” said Jim Furyk, one of the favourites and drawn ina group with Martin Kaymer, Thongchai Jaidee and George Coetzee.

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