Defeat focuses McIlroy's mind
Rory McIlroy was on Wednesday hoping that his opening defeat in the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final could be a blessing in disguise.
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The winner of the inaugural eight-man event in Turkey will pick up 1.5million US dollars (£938,000) but after a six-shot defeat to Matt Kuchar on Tuesday, another loss to Charl Schwartzel this morning would mean McIlroy crashing out in the group stages.
And if Tiger Woods, beaten by former Masters champion Schwartzel on day one, were to also lose to Kuchar, the afternoon clash between Woods and McIlroy would be rendered meaningless with both of the world's top two players eliminated.
"I know what I need to do, I need to go out and win both of my matches and see if that's good enough," McIlroy said. "In a way it could be a blessing that I'm not complacent and I go out and give it my best."
McIlroy only arrived in Turkey on Monday afternoon and had not seen the course before his match with Kuchar, but made two eagles in five holes on the front nine and was two under par through 14 holes.
But the world number one's card then read seven, seven, five for an amazing seven dropped shots in three holes, gifting the contest to Ryder Cup rival Kuchar, who covered the back nine in 38 but still won comfortably.
"I was playing pretty well until the 15th, then hit a loose tee-shot there and was messing about in the trees and making seven," said McIlroy, who was watched by girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, the former tennis world number one.
"Then I hit it into the hazard on 16 and was just trying to get the round done. I lost a bit of concentration, went a few behind and gave up a bit. If it was a different format and a different tournament it might not have got as out of control as it did, but that's just the way it is."
Woods played the 15th, 16th and 17th in nine shots fewer than McIlroy and also birdied the 17th to draw level with Schwartzel, but then bogeyed the 18th to lose by a single shot.
Asked about the prospect of facing McIlroy this afternoon, Woods said: "I have to take care of my match and we'll see in the afternoon. We have to both win in the morning.
"We're the two highest-ranked players in the world right now and it will be a fun match either way, but it will obviously be a lot better if we both win in the morning."
In Group Two, Justin Rose beat Hunter Mahan by four shots and Lee Westwood beat Webb Simpson by one after the US Open champion bogeyed the 18th. Westwood and Rose face each other this morning, with the other match between Simpson and Mahan.