Rory McIlroy’s plans for a day on the beach with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki were ruined by a thunderstorm – and the outside chance of still being able to win $1.5 million (£936,000).
World No 1 McIlroy chipped in for birdie on the final hole of his second group match at the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final yesterday morning, only to see opponent Charl Schwartzel follow him in from 12ft.
That meant a one-shot victory for the South African (70 to 71) and a second straight defeat for McIlroy, who was left needing to beat Tiger Woods and see Schwartzel beat Matt Kuchar to have any chance of making the semi-finals.
Those final group games were due to be played yesterday afternoon, but were called off without a shot being hit after a massive thunderstorm, meaning McIlroy will have to return to Antalya Golf Club for at least 18 holes today.
“It looks like I’ll get to spend a day on the beach tomorrow, which will be nice,” McIlroy said after losing to former Masters champion Schwartzel, only to see those plans change when the rains came later in the day.
“It was actually a decent match,” McIlroy added. “I felt like I played a bit better today, had plenty of chances and just didn’t really hole much.
“I got off to a better start and Charl played solid and then birdied three of the last four, so I couldn’t really do much about that.”
As for his showdown with Woods, which failed to materialise at last month’s Ryder Cup, McIlroy added: “I’ll try and keep him out of those semi-finals. I’m sure that’s not what the tournament wants, but it’s what I’m going to try to do.”
Schwartzel, who has been hampered by various injuries this season, has now beaten the world’s top two players back to back and said: “Any time you can do that it’s going to give you a lot of confidence.
“I’ve not had the best of years and decided to have a better attitude towards the game and this certainly helps.”
Woods had lost to Schwartzel on Tuesday, but yesterday beat Ryder Cup team-mate Matt Kuchar by five shots with a round of 67, four under par.
“It felt good,” said Woods, who won just half a point from his four games in Medinah and admitted on Monday that he had apologised to the four rookies on the US team for his performance.
“I didn’t start great with a double-bogey on the second and a bogey on four, but after that I played well.”
The scoring system – with one point for a win in each 18-hole medal match play contest – means that all eight players remain in with a chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Wins for Schwartzel and McIlroy would see Schwartzel through to the semi-finals on three points with McIlroy, Woods and Kuchar all on one point in Group One.
The lowest aggregate score for each player’s three matches would then be used to break the tie, with one player joining Schwartzel in the last four.
The same scenario could also unfold in Group Two, with Justin Rose top with two points after beating Lee Westwood (66 to 69), and Webb Simpson (65) joining Westwood on one point by beating Hunter Mahan (67).
Rose faces Simpson, and Westwood takes on Mahan, in the remaining matches.
Tuesday’s play in Turkey had been overshadowed slightly by an incident which saw Ahmet Agaoglu, the president of the Turkish Golf Federation, allegedly head-butt an official photographer before Woods’s opening-round match. Agaoglu yesterday apologised for the episode.
The incident occurred when Woods was about to tee up against Schwartzel. Agaoglu was seen arguing with the photographer and telling him to move off Woods’s intended line of shot before security staff removed the accredited Turkish-born photographer from the first tee.
“They were pushing the security guards and one of them pushed me and I replied by pushing him back, as well,” Agaoglu said. “I am trying to make everything this week so perfect and it’s unfortunate my reaction happened. However, I will prepare a written apology and send it to him apologising for my own actions.”