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McIlroy edges Tiger by one shot in The Match

Updated: 2013-10-29 07:28
By Tym Glaser in Haikou, Hainan Islands ( China Daily)

It was deja vu all over again on Monday when Rory McIlroy went head-to-head with Tiger Woods in an exhibition showdown and once again emerged victorious by the slimmest of margins

After a tough 18 holes played in humid conditions over Mission Hills uber-long par-73 Blackstone Course, the Northern Irishman shot a 6-under 67 to edge the world No 1 by a single stroke - the same margin as their Duel at Jinshan in Zhengzhou last year.

This battle, dubbed The Match at Mission Hills, saw McIIroy jump out to a two-stroke lead after the first two holes thanks to birdies, but Woods fought his way back to knot the score going into the penultimate hole, where he missed a short par putt while McIlroy drained his.

"I wouldn't say I have the wood on Tiger," McIlroy told US sports commentator Ahmad Rashad, apparently with no pun intended, after the final hole.

 McIlroy edges Tiger by one shot in The Match

World No 1 Tiger Woods and No 6 Rory McIlroy acknowledge the gallery before teeing off for The Match at Mission Hills at Haikou, Hainan Island, on Monday. McIlroy tasted victory for the first time this year by edging Woods by one stroke in their megabucks exhibition. Huang Yibing / For China Daily

"I think I've just been lucky. It's only been a stroke each time."

A massive gallery - estimated to be about 6,000 - followed the star pair throughout the day. The fans were mainly well behaved, but some golf etiquette classes would not be out of order.

While Woods and McIlroy raved about the course and the tremendous fan support, they took special delight in mentoring dozens of Chinese youngsters who are part of the Mission Hills' golf academy.

Monday's event marked 12 years of Tiger coming to China, and he said he's astounded by the rapid development of youth golf on the mainland.

"The first time I came here there really weren't any junior golf programs. It's really exciting to see the development and growing popularity of the game. It's a very exciting time," he said.

"It's going to be very interesting to see over the next 20 years the landscape of golf and the number of Chinese that will be involved."

Woods and McIlroy may have gotten a preview of that future when 15-year-old Chinese star Guan Tianlang beat them in a closest-to-the-pin contest before they took to the course.

Legal action

Meanwhile, Woods said it was up to the Golf Channel to deal with a TV analyst who accused him of bending the rules, as the threat of legal action receded Monday.

The 14-time major-winner broke his silence on the stormy issue before teeing off.

Woods's manager had hinted at libel action against the Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee after he accused the world No 1 of being "a little cavalier with the rules".

"All I am going to say is that I know I am going forward but then I don't know what the Golf Channel is going to do or not, so then that is up to them," Woods said in Haikou.

"The whole issue has been very disappointing as he (Chamblee) didn't really apologise and he sort of reignited the whole situation.

"I'm going to put it behind me and move forward, so the ball really is in the court of the Golf Channel and what they are prepared to do."

Chamblee initially took to Twitter to apologize to Woods, but he then inflamed the issue again by saying he stood by the accusation, which he made in an article for

AFP contributed to this story

(China Daily 10/29/2013 page23)