Sports

McIlroy rallies to advance at Match Play

San Francisco, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Rory McIlroy won Nos. 17 and 18 to force extra holes Friday, then beat Billy Horschel in the 20th to advance to the round of 16 at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship.

McIlroy and Horschel were both 2-0 entering the match, meaning the winner would move on. Horschel failed to get up and down for par after missing the green at the par-3 second at TPC Harding Park, giving McIlroy the match.

Jim Furyk toppled Martin Kaymer in a battle of former U.S. Open champions. Furyk birdied the 20th hole to push his record to 2-1. When George Coetzee downed Thongchai Jaidee in the other match in that group, Furyk won the group thanks to his win over Coetzee on Wednesday.

McIlroy and Furyk were the 'A' players in their groups. The only other 'A' players to advance were Rickie Fowler, who had clinched his group on Thursday, J.B. Holmes and Hideki Matsuyama.

Those five are all on the same side of the bracket heading to the round of 16.

Lee Westwood, who won in Indonesia last week, rallied to beat Masters champion Jordan Spieth, 2-up. Westwood, world No. 27, is the highest-ranked player on the other side of the bracket.

World No. 32 Hunter Mahan, the 2012 winner, finally lost a hole for the first time in three rounds. That didn't stop him from cruising past 2013 champ Matt Kuchar, 5 & 4, to win his group.

There was just one playoff to reach the round of 16 and it came in group seven, Jason Day's group. Last year's winner was ousted as he went 0-3. The other three players - Zach Johnson, Branden Grace and Charley Hoffman - all went 2-1.

They headed to extra holes, where all three players birdied the par-5 first. All three had birdie chances from outside 20 feet on the second, but no one converted and they all made par.

At the par-4 third, Grace dropped his approach shot 12 feet from the hole and drained the birdie putt to advance.

"Today was my day, it's weird to win two games ... and still have to do a playoff. For myself, this week it's worked out," said Grace.

One match pitting a pair of 0-2 players - Miguel Angel Jimenez and Keegan Bradley - had the most tension. Leading 1-up on No. 18, Jimenez went to make sure Bradley was taking a proper drop from a temporary immovable object and a cart path.

There was a rules official on hand, but Jimenez interjected his opinion. Bradley was upset by this and told the Spaniard to go back to his ball. Jimenez continued to question the drop, angering both Bradley and his caddie.

Jimenez told Bradley's caddie to shut up, and Bradley responded by confronting the 21-time European Tour winner. Jimenez eventually walked away, and won the hole, and the match, 2-up.

"I'm not going to say anymore about it. It's fine. The round is over," Bradley said. "I have nothing but respect for him, he's a great player out here, but I have to be able to stick up for myself when I feel like something is wrong."

Horschel birdied the first to go 1-up on McIlroy. The pair traded birdies at five and six. Horschel pushed his lead to 2-up with a birdie at 12. However, he stumbled to a double-bogey at 13 to trim his advantage.

McIlroy dropped a shot at 14 to dip 2-down. The match remained that way as they parred 15 and birdied 16. McIlroy also birdied the 17th and 18th to force extra holes.

Both players missed the green at the par-3 second. McIlroy, from a bunker, blasted to three feet before Horschel's chip stopped eight feet from the cup. He ran his par putt by the hole, then McIlroy made his putt to advance.

"Obviously, you make the putt or you are going home," McIlroy said of his putt on No. 17. "I remember I holed the putt on the 17th green at the Ryder Cup last year. It was the same sort of thing. I hole it or we're going to get beaten. I drew a little bit of inspiration from that.

"Hit the best putt that I hit all day, thankfully. When I got him up to 18, I knew just try and keep the pressure on him and somehow I was able to turn it around."

McIlroy moves on to face Matsuyama, who trounced Kevin Na, 5 & 4, to win his group with a 3-0 mark.

Charl Schwartzel and Paul Casey won tight matches to move on. They both finished 3-0 in their respective groups and will face each other on Saturday.

Spieth led for the first eight holes, but Westwood birdied the ninth to square the match. Spieth traded a bogey for a birdie from the 10th. They halved five holes in a row to remain all square. Westwood birdied the final two holes to earn the 2-up win.

Westwood will face Danny Willett on Saturday. Willett fended off Andy Sullivan to finish 3-0 in his group.

Grace beat Hoffman, 2 & 1, before winning the group in a playoff. Grace will take on Tommy Fleetwood, who took down Bernd Wiesberger in 19 holes on Friday. Fleetwood and Jamie Donaldson both ended 2-1 in their group, but Fleetwood beat Donaldson head-to-head and advances to face Grace.

Mahan will take on John Senden in the round of 16. Senden also went 3-0 in his group. Marc Leishman and Gary Woodland, who went 3-0 in groups six and 11, will face each other on Saturday.

Louis Oosthuizen posted a 3-0 mark in the group that included Bradley and Jimenez. Oosthuizen will take on Fowler in the round of 16. In the final round of 16 match, Furyk will face J.B. Holmes, who went 2-1 in group 12. Holmes beat Brooks Koepka on Friday, 2 & 1, to advance. Koepka also finished 2-1 in that group.

NOTES: Of the five former winners in the field, only Mahan advanced to the round of 16 ... Mikko Ilonen claimed the biggest win of the week as he trounced Matt Every, 8 & 6 ... Of the 96 matches through three rounds, 48 were won by the higher seed.