AUSTIN, Texas – Soren Kjeldsen pulled off the day’s biggest upset at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, jumping out to an early lead against second-seeded Rory McIlroy and closing the match out with four consecutive birdies for a 2-and-1 victory.
“Coming in at [he’s the 62nd-seeded player] this week, everybody that I'm playing I'm going to be the underdog,” said Kjeldsen, who was 6 under par for 17 holes.
Kjeldsen birdied the first and 10th holes for a 2-up lead before closing his round with a flourish, and said McIlroy played pretty much how he expected.
“I never played with Rory where I came off the course saying it looks awful,” he said.
The contrast between the two players was striking, with Kjeldsen averaging 281 yards off the tee compared to McIlroy’s 317-yard average.
That distance advantage was most profound on the 12th hole, when McIlroy’s drive bounded 410 yards, 78 yards ahead of the Dane.
When informed how far McIlroy’s drive traveled at the 12th Kjeldsen smiled and said, “Really? Did it hit a sprinkler?”
The loss is just the second time in nine starts at the Match Play, which he won in 2015, that McIlroy dropped his opening-day match.
“I played well. If I had of played anyone else I might have won. Soren played great,” McIlroy said. “I think I have to give him credit. He played really, really well, from the first hole."