BELEK, Turkey, October 11 – Tiger Woods easily accounted for world number one Rory McIlroy in the first ever matchplay showdown between the pair to reach the semi-finals at the World Golf Final in Belek, Turkey on Thursday.
Woods was always ahead in his match, shooting a seven-under-par 64 to McIlroy’s one-under-par 70 on the Sultan course at the Antalya club, to advance to a showdown with England’s Justin Rose.
Rose defeated reigning US Open champion, Webb Simpson with a new course record of nine-under-par 62, compared to Simpson’s 67.
South African Charl Schwartzel posted a 63 to defeat American Matt Kuchar, who signed for a 65.
Schwartzel, who won all three of his round-robin matches, now faces England’s Lee Westwood in the second semi-final, after Westwood shot a 64 to defeat American Hunter Mahan by three shots.
McIlroy, who had already lost his opening two matches, began horribly against Woods when he found the water off the opening tee and he did not drop below par for the round until he birdied the 17th hole.
McIlroy and Mahan, who also failed to win a match, nonetheless leave Turkey with prize cheques worth $300,000.
Woods, meanwhile, remains in contention to win the $1.5 million first prize.
“It felt good and I really hit it good out there,” said Woods.
“I missed a couple of putts, and it really could have been a low number, but it was good enough to advance.
“My game is starting to turn around a bit and I am beginning to hit it like I did at the start of the year.
“I’ve now got Justin and that should be a good match this afternoon.”
The Turkish event had been billed as ‘Tiger v Rory’ and with McIlroy out, the 23-year old was already looking forward to time away from the course despite having to return on Friday for a Pro-Am involving all eight players.
“I’m not that disappointed because I’ve got the afternoon off around the pool,” he said.
“I just came here because I have never played in Turkey and there is a lot of good players here, and I thought it would be a fun week and it has been.
“So I’ve enjoyed myself. I feel fine and the energy levels are okay and I’ve got another week off next week before I get myself up for the Race to Dubai.”
However, McIlroy’s immediate concern is getting a Russian visa so he can accompany girlfriend Caroline Wozinacki to Moscow, where the Danish tennis star is contesting the Kremlin Cup.
“It was a good game out there,” said Rose of his duel with Webb. “I ended up nine under and Webb was five under, but it was a much closer game than that.
“I’ve now got Tiger late this afternoon (Thursday) and it looks like that will be a tough game as he is playing well and got himself into some form.
“We are learning more about this course with each round and it’s all going to come down to who makes the most birdies.”
Simpson and Webb, who each won one match, earn cheques for $450,000 for their efforts.
The semi-finals take place on Thursday afternoon, with the final scheduled for Friday morning.
Justin Rose (62) beat Webb Simpson (65)
Lee Westwood (64) beat Hunter Mahan (67)
Charl Schwartzel (63) beat Matt Kuchar (65)
Tiger Woods (64) beat Rory McIlroy (70)
Charl Schwartzel 3
Tiger Woods 2
Matt Kuchar 1
Rory McIlroy 0
Justin Rose 3
Lee Westwood 2
Webb Simpson 1
Hunter Mahan 0
Semi-finals (later on Thursday)
Charl Schwartzel v Lee Westwood
Justin Rose v Tiger Woods