McIlroy cruises past Woodland to 10th PGA Tour win

By Doug FergusonMay 3, 2015, 10:28 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – Rory McIlroy didn't need another comeback to win the Match Play Championship.

Three times in the last three days, McIlroy had to rally from a late deficit to reach the championship match Sunday at TPC Harding Park. He removed any suspense by winning four straight holes against an errant Gary Woodland and never looked back.

Woodland conceded the 16th hole, and McIlroy captured his second World Golf Championship with a 4-and-2 victory.

Three weeks after Jordan Spieth won the Masters and emerged as the most likely rival, McIlroy reminded the world of his No. 1 ranking.

''I'm really proud of myself with how I showed a lot of character early on with coming back from deficits,'' McIlroy said. ''I played really solid golf. My second WGC and first win in the States this year. I couldn't be happier.''

It was the first time since Tiger Woods in 2008 that the No. 1 seed won golf's most unpredictable tournament. Woods did it two other times, and it was never easy.

That was the case for McIlroy until the final, and even then, he had a few nervous moments on the back nine.


WGC-Cadillac Match Play: Articles, videos and photos


McIlroy was 4 up after matching birdies with Woodland on the 10th hole when he began making mistakes – a poor bunker shot on No. 11, a wild tee shot on No. 12, an indifferent chip from the left side of the 13th green.

Woodland had a 4-foot par putt on the 13th to cut the lead to 1 up with plenty of golf course left. He never looked comfortable and ran it over the right edge, and momentum shifted squarely back to McIlroy.

He won the 14th with a par when Woodland left a long birdie attempted woefully short. And he closed out the match when Woodland blasted out of a bunker and over the 16th green, missing the next shot and removing his cap.

''My putt drops on 13 and it's a different ball game,'' Woodland said. ''But I missed that one. And he was like a shark. Smelled blood, and it was over quickly.''

McIlroy was 2 down with two holes to play and risked being eliminated Friday when he rallied against Billy Horschel to win in 20 holes. In a quarterfinal match that spilled into Sunday morning, he was 1 down to Paul Casey on the 17th hole and wound up beating him in 22 holes.

His strongest play was in the semifinals against Jim Furyk, who put enormous pressure on McIlroy over the closing holes by hitting four straight approach shots close. McIlroy delivered a birdie-birdie-eagle finish to win.

The first birdie was to halve the hole on the 16th and avoid going 2 down with 2 to play. He hit 7-iron to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th to square the match. And with Furyk facing a 20-foot birdie putt, McIlroy ended the match by rolling in a 45-foot eagle putt across the green for a 1-up victory.

Woodland faced an early deficit to Danny Willett of England in the semifinals until he turned it around for a 3-and-2 victory. Going into the championship match, Woodland had trailed on only 11 of the 101 holes he had played all week.

Against McIlroy, he never led.

They halved holes with bogeys until Woodland kept making them. His powerful driving, such a strength over four days, deserted him in the championship match and McIlroy made him pay for it.

In the consolation match, Willett defeated Furyk on the 16th hole and picked up $646,000, which will go a long way toward PGA Tour membership if he wants it.

McIlroy won for the second time this year and the 16th time worldwide. It was his 10th PGA Tour victory, joining Woods (24) and Jack Nicklaus (12) as the only players with at least 10 victories at age 25 or younger.

McIlroy turns 26 on Monday.

The Match Play Championship featured a new format this year to keep more top players in the field for at least three days. McIlroy was 3-0 in the round-robin format, and wound up winning all seven matches to pick up the $1.57 million prize.

Woodland earned $930,000 for finishing second.

Getty Images

Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

Getty Images

Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

Getty Images

13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.