(Reuters) – Tiger Woods sealed a 2&1 victory over a lacklustre Rory McIlroy in their first match play meeting at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas on Saturday.
Woods, the 13th seed, never trailed in the showcase match between the two former world number ones, building a three-hole advantage by the 10th hole.
McIlroy rallied, cutting the lead to 1 up before the Northern Irishman lost the 16th hole and Woods closed out the match at the 17th.
“I played pretty consist the entire day,” Woods told Golf Channel.
“I felt like I didn’t give him any holes and Rory didn’t make any putts today. I think he made two birdies today.”
Woods will play Dane Lucas Bjerregaard in the quarter-finals later on Saturday after the 50th seed beat Swede Henrik Stenson 3&2.
In another upset England’s Justin Rose, the number two seed, lost to America Kevin Na 2 up.
Kevin Kisner, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia joined Na in advancing to the quarter-finals.
Kisner beat China’s Li Haotong 6&5, Italian Molinari defeated England’s Paul Casey 5&4, South African Oosthuizen saw off Australian Marc Leishman 2&1, Kuchar topped England’s Tyrell Hatton and Spaniard Garcia edged South African Branden Grace 1 up.
Woods’ solid play and McIlroy’s poor putting were key to their match along with the turn of events at the 16th hole.
McIlroy’s approach shot at the 16th flew the green and rolled up against a railroad-tie fence, forcing him to take an unplayable lie.
McIlroy returned to his original lie only to find a bunker on his next shot before blasting to within two feet and conceding the hole.
The misadventures left Woods 2 up and on the brink of victory.
While Woods appeared comfortable for most of the match, McIlroy did not make a birdie until the 12th hole.
That’s where the Northern Irishman launched his comeback bid, biting into Woods’ lead with a three-foot putt.
A cold front brought rain and wind at the 13th and McIlroy, after a solid tee shot, again prevailed, sinking a key five foot putt to cut Woods’ advantage to one.
It stay that way until McIlroy’s misfortunes at the 16th.
Woods dominated the first 10 holes. The 43-year-old went 1 up with a four-foot birdie putt on the fifth hole, then took command with another birdie at the sixth.
The advantage went to 3 up when McIlroy flubbed a five-foot par putt at the 10th.
The shot was typical of McIlroy’s early putting. He saved par with a clutch putt at the second, then came up short on numerous later opportunities.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina,; Editing by Christian Radnedge/Ed Osmond/Pritha Sarkar)