Rory McIlroy produced the shot of the day at the 18th as he went close to making an albatross on his way to securing a second successive victory on day two of the 2023 WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play.
Leading his opponent Denny McCarthy by one hole with just the par-four last to play, McIlroy drove the green, with his ball finishing up around four feet from the hole for a tap-in eagle.
The four-time Major Champion will meet Keegan Bradley on Friday at Austin Country Club to decide who progresses to the knockout phase after the American saw off Scott Stallings 6&5 in the day’s final match.
World Number One and defending champion Scottie Scheffler won six holes without reply as he came from behind to secure a comfortable 5&4 win over Alex Noren and claim his second point.
Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick picked up his first point of the week with a hard-fought 2&1 victory over Min Woo Lee. The 2022 U.S. Open Champion needs to win his match against Sahith Theegala on Friday and hope J. J. Spaun takes nothing from his meeting with Lee if he is to advance.
Jon Rahm stormed to a 4&3 victory over Keith Mitchell to pick up his first point and keep his hopes of progressing alive.
The World Number Two bounced back from Wednesday’s 2&1 defeat to Rickie Fowler in style, going in front at the very first hole before pulling well clear of American Mitchell on the back nine by winning three successive holes from the 11th.
That put him 5UP with five holes remaining, and although Mitchell won the 14th to keep the contest going, a tie at the 15th ended the match early.
Billy Horschel, who won this event in 2021, tops the Pool on 1.5 points ahead of his heavyweight clash with Rahm on Friday at the 64-man match play event in Austin.
Séamus Power holed a clutch birdie putt at the 18th to secure a one-hole victory over Adam Hadwin which saw him avoid elimination. Irishman Power produced late fireworks on Thursday, winning two of the last three holes to turn a one-hole deficit into a narrow victory.
There were also victories for Sam Burns, Jason Day, Harris English, Tony Finau, Russell Henley, Lucas Herbert, Max Homa, Mackenzie Hughes, Si Woo Kim, Kurt Kitayama, Taylor Montgomery, J. T. Poston, Andrew Putnam, Davis Riley, Xander Schauffele, Justin Suh, David Thompson, Cameron Young.
Rory McIlroy: “It was good. I didn’t think that I could get it on the green, then I was walking up there and was told that it flew on the green.
“I played really well. Denny got off to a really good start and was 3UP early and then I just played really well, played really solid – didn’t make a bogey today and made some birdies when I needed to. Thankfully I was able to win the match.”
Jon Rahm: “The scenarios are so many that it is way easier if you just focus on what you can control, which is the shot in hand. I did a really good job today. Hopefully I can play tee to green as well as I have the last two days.”
Billy Horschel: “It’s going to be a great match. He’s been playing great for a long time now. There’s a reason why he was Number One in the world not too long ago. We know what Jon has done in this game of golf.
“I’ve got to show up. I’ve got to play really good golf to have a chance to beat him, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow, but I’m just happy I’m able to control my own destiny, and if I can get a win tomorrow, then it looks like I’ll be moving on.”
Matt Fitzpatrick: “Today was much better. I’ve definitely got a good chance. I need a little bit of help but, you know, all I can do is go out there and control what I can and do as best as I can.”
Seamus Power: “Obviously I needed that one to stay in it. Sam won right there in front of us so I knew I had to win that hole, so it was nice to sneak it in.
“A lot of work to do tomorrow. Obviously Sam is a great player, so looking forward to the challenge.”