BELEK, Turkey — The anticipated matchup between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods on Wednesday may not count for much after both lost their opening matches at the eight-player World Golf Finals.
McIlroy lost to Matt Kuchar by six shots and Woods fell to Charl Schwartzel by one shot on Tuesday in the $5.2 million event at the Sultan course in Antalya.
In the other group of the medal match-play format, Lee Westwood beat Webb Simpson by one shot and Justin Rose defeated Hunter Mahan by four strokes.
McIlroy and Woods — ranked No. 1 and No. 2 — face each other Wednesday in the last of their three group matches, but both could already be eliminated by then. The top two in each group will advance to the semifinals.
In Wednesday’s morning matches, McIlroy will face Schwartzel and Woods will play Kuchar.
Woods and Schwartzel were all-square going to the 18th when the American went into a greenside bunker and finished with a bogey.
“It came right down to the wire, but I can’t believe how far that second shot flew into the back bunker and that was the match,” Woods said. “`It means now that I have to play `Kooch’ and try and win that match before facing Rory in the afternoon.”
McIlroy unraveled against Kuchar with a triple bogey at the 15th hole and double bogeys at 16 and 17.
“I hit a drive into the trees on 15 and lost a bit of confidence,” McIlroy said. “I need to win both of my matches tomorrow if I am to advance. I just struggled for a bit of motivation out there, so I need to go out and concentrate on both of my matches tomorrow.”
Kuchar, after taking a bogey at the first, birdied the next two holes and was never behind.
“I just thought I had to play mistake-free, and hopefully Rory wouldn’t get too hot,” the American said. “There we are all-square with four to go, he hits it right and makes triple bogey, and I go three up with three to go and I think both of us lost a little interest at that point.”
The event allows players to wear shorts, and Westwood, Schwartzel, Mahan and Kuchar chose to do so. All but Mahan won their matches. Westwood wore a red shirt and white shorts in tribute to his favorite soccer club, Nottingham Forest.
“Them are footballers legs,” Westwood said. “I could still play for Forest with these legs.”
Kuchar said he was happy to wear shorts again. He spent the week after the Ryder Cup loss to the European with his family in Greece.
“Being able to come to an event like this that is a little more relaxed is just great to be able to throw shorts on,” he said.
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