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For the first time with stars from the PGA Tour and the LPGA

McIlroy triumphs over Homa, Lexi and Zhang in the The Match 9 of Capital One

Los cuatro participantes del The Match 9 © The Match
Los cuatro participantes del The Match 9 © The Match

The ninth edition of the The Match, by Capital One, went to Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman defeated Max Homa, Lexi Thompson and Rose Zhang at the Park Golf Course in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday in the first edition of the event that featured stars from both the PGA Tour and the LPGA. A victory that came in a sort of ‘overtime’ in which Rory left the ball closer to the hole after four consecutive ties that extended the outcome.

In previous editions of The Match, teams participated in which, in addition to golf stars, athletes from other disciplines, such as Tom Brady, Stephen Curry or Patrick Mahomes showed their talent with the clubs. This year’s was a 12-hole night competition, on a course with spectacular lighting, in which each of the four participants competed individually.

All but McIlroy, the eventual winner, were debutants in The Match. The four-time major winner had already teamed up with Tiger Woods to face Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in 2022. However, the format was new even for him, with amounts donated to charitable foundations that varied increasingly as the holes passed:

Holes 1 to 4: $100,000 each
Holes 5 to 8: $150,000 each
Holes 9 to 11: $200,000 each
Hole 12: $500,000

Zhang tied with Homa on the first hole with a birdie and Thompson made an incredible putt for eagle from off the green that gave her the first ‘sking’ and $200,000 on the second hole. But Rory quickly recovered with a great five-wood on the fourth hole. It earned him $200,000 after he and Homa split the par three of the third hole with almost identical tee shots.

From there, McIlroy delivered when the amounts raised increased thanks to a great approach shot from the sand to make a $300,000 birdie on the sixth hole after tying the fifth. At this point, the Northern Irishman had it all going for him after Homa made three putts on the eighth hole, giving Rory another hole after tying the seventh and $600,000 ahead of Thompson before facing the highest valued holes.

That seemingly comfortable lead of Rory was nothing after the ties recorded in the last four holes, which meant that everything was reduced to an overtime format of approach to the hole, where McIlroy overcame the pressure with a spectacular shot to win this ninth edition of The Match after leading most of the tournament. A tournament designed for and by television that reinvents itself every year.