Austin, Texas: Tiger Woods withstood a charge from Rory McIlroy and weathered a nasty storm front that moved in over Austin County Club on the back nine to advance to the Elite 8 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Woods took control of the match with birdies on the fifth and sixth holes as poor chip shots on both by McIlroy led to losses. Woods went 3 up when McIlroy three-putted from 32 feet on the 10th, missing a 3-footer.
McIlroy came back with birdies on the 12th and 13th holes and seemed to be one good swing away from tying the match on the par-5 16th when crazy joined the group. McIlroy, after a 395-yard drive, had just 172 yards into the green but pushed his shot to the right and just outside a greenside bunker.
From there, he made a 7 and conceded the hole.
As Woods eyed a 45-footer for birdie, McIlroy was 35 yards from the pin. But from an awkward lie and with an awkward stance, McIlroy’s third shot flew the green, got through the crowd and ended up against wooden planks by the cart path. With nowhere good to drop up there, McIlroy returned to where he took his third shot from and took his penalty drop.
He dunked his fifth shot into a bunker, chipped to short distance but conceded.
What a change in momentum.
Rory: 395-yard drive (longest drive of the day on 16)
Tiger: Finds the bunker
Tiger: Lays up
Tiger: Finds the green
Rory: Misses the green
Rory: Goes long
Rory: Takes unplayable
Rory: Finds the sand
Rory: Cards a 7@TigerWoods is 2 UP thru 16. pic.twitter.com/l8twgqYRP4
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 30, 2019
“I played pretty consistent the entire day,” Woods said. “Felt like I didn’t give him any holes. And Rory didn’t make any putts today. I think he made two birdies today. It was just a tough day all around.
“It was a fun match for us. I know that we battled pretty hard against one another and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I was fortunate to come out on top. It was a tough match for both of us. I mean, I knew that it was going to be a ball-striking match.
“We were both playing well coming into this match, and the year that Rory has had, he doesn’t do anything poorly. I tried to match him shot for shot with ball-striking and hopefully make a couple of putts here and there. Rory made a couple of birdies, I only made a couple of birdies. It was a tough day with the conditions changing. The front came through and threw us for a little bit of a loop.”
Woods faces Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, who dispatched Henrik Stenson, 4 and 2. Bjerregaard advanced out of pool play with wins against Justin Thomas and Matt Wallace and a tie with Keegan Bradley.
Bjerregaard, 27, has two victories on the European Tour – the 2017 Portugal Masters and the 2018 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
In other Elite 8 matches, Louis Oosthuizen meets Kevin Kisner, who lost to Bubba Watson in the finals last year. Oosthuizen defeated Marc Leishman, 2 and 1, while Kisner made quick work of Hao Tong Li, 6 and 5.
Reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari continued his impressive roll with a 5-and-4 rout of Paul Casey, who won last week’s Valspar Championship. Molinari faces Kevin Na, who has overcome neck discomfort all week. Na defeated world No. 2 Justin Rose, 2 up.
Matt Kuchar, who has won twice this season, advanced with a 4-and-3 victory against Tyrrell Hatton. He’ll face Sergio Garcia, who beat Brendan Grace 1 up.