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McIlroy & Woods Don't Have Much to Say after Losing First-Round Matches
It's not surprising that their responses to questions in the press center at Dove Mountain were rather muted. After all, the top-ranked golfers in the world, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, had just fallen to the 16th seeds in their respective brackets in the WGC-Acccenture Match Play Championship.
Perhaps most painful is that each player were on the losing end to good friends. McIlroy fell 1-up to Shane Lowry, while Woods went down 2 and 1 to Charles Howell III.
After signing a lucrative new endorsement contract with Nike and switching to its clubs last month, McIlroy went out and promptly missed the cut in the Abu Dhabi Championship, a European Tour event. After making some tweaks to his driver and putter before returning to competition this week, McIlroy tried again but with an even more disappointing result.
Meanwhile, Woods didn't have a new-equipment excuse as neither player carded a bogey in their 18-hole match. Woods simply got outplayed by Howell, and he recognized that as a vagary of match-play golf.
Afterwards, the two held separate sit-downs with reporters. As noted below, the sessions were short and sweet.
Rory McIlroy Interview
RORY McILROY: I didn't make enough birdies in the end. Shane had a nice little stretch around part of the back nine. I hung in there, but I just didn't do enough.
Q. Anything specific about your irons that may have kept you off?
RORY McILROY: I've just been missing a lot of them right, just getting ahead of it. I think it's more a timing thing than anything else. Everything else was actually pretty good out there. I just need to go and work on them.
Q. When your opponent holes out multiple times, does that mess with you?
RORY McILROY: Not really. I guess the 12th hole was a big turning point, I thought.
Q. I'm sure your expectations being the overall top seed were not to lose after round 1?
RORY McILROY: No, of course not. You want to try and get as far as you can, but I guess that's match play. I probably would have lost by more if I had played someone else in the field. It wasn't a great quality match. But it would have been nice to get through and just get another day here and another competitive round under my belt. I'll go and practice over the weekend and get ready for next week at the Honda.
Q. What did you and Shane talk about down the stretch or after the match was over?
RORY McILROY: Not much, really. There wasn't that much chatter. We were kind of chatting the first few holes and then it was getting pretty tight around the turn, and the back nine there wasn't much talk out there.
Q. How do you assess your game right now and what do you think you have to work on the next few weeks?
RORY McILROY: Iron play, I guess. I missed a lot of irons right. I felt like I drew the ball really well. I hit the ball well off the tee. I just need to take advantage of the driving I've been doing.
Q. What strides do you think you've made with your new clubs?
RORY McILROY: I'm hitting the ball so much better off the tee, which is a huge positive. I'm more comfortable with everything around the greens.
Q. Do you feel a little bit rusty?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I do, I do. It'll be nice to go play a tournament next week and then Doral, as well. Yeah, obviously disappointed I didn't get to play a little more golf this week, but I'll practice over the weekend.
Q. Is this just kind of another example about how unpredictable match play can be?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I guess so. Match play is a bit of a - it's not a lottery, the best guy usually wins, but if it's over 36 holes or something, it's more of an even sort of keel. I would have been 1 down after 18 and had a great chance, but that's 18 hole match play; you have to get off to a fast start and you have to play well to win.
Q. When he holed in the chip in front of the grandstand there, did that do anything to the momentum of everything?
RORY McILROY: It changed it a little bit from going - looking like I was up there at three feet for par and he was looking like he was struggling for a halve, and all of a sudden he wins the hole, the momentum shifted a little bit.
Q. How quickly can you fix timing issues?
RORY McILROY: It shouldn't be a lot of work, I just have to go and look on the range at it.
Tiger Woods Interview
Q. Do you think the momentum played a factor?
TIGER WOODS: No, because we were all square a bunch of times out there, and he never got more than 1 up most of the day until he made that putt there at 16. But it was a tight match. I had some putts to - at 10, 11, 12 there, he had a putt there at 14. We missed our share of putts out there, which - it was a good, solid match for both of us, but he made a couple birdies there at 16 - sorry, 15 and 16.
Q. First competitive round since Torrey. You're always in the process. How would you assess the way you played today?
TIGER WOODS: I played well, I really did. I hit a lot of good shots out there. As I said, I didn't make a bogey out there. Unfortunately, it's the nature of the format, and I'm not advancing.
Q. A lot of guys would have won their match if you had played with a lot of other players that won their match. Is that frustrating?
TIGER WOODS: It's just the way it goes. I've seen matches won where a guy shoots 7 under par and he's going home. I remember at La Costa there was a match where a player shot 7 over and won. It happens. You know, it's the nature of the format. You've just got to beat the guy you're playing against, and I didn't do that today. Chucky won the match.
Q. A few days before your next event at Honda. What is your plan the next few days?
TIGER WOODS: Well, go get warm.
The transcripts for the above interviews are courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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