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McIlroy birdies 22nd hole to beat Casey and reach Match Play semi-final

McIlroy advances to face fifth seed Furyk in the last four, with Danny Willett taking on Gary Woodland in the other semi-final.

RORY MCILROY HAS defeated Paul Casey on the 22nd hole of their quarter-final in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play.

McIlroy and Casey had gone to three extra play-off holes last night before darkness halted proceedings. Play resumed this morning at 2:45 (Irish time) and McIlroy wasted little time seeing off the Englishman.

McIlroy made it to the front edge of the green with his second shot into the par five first hole, while Casey’s second shot ran through the green and found the rough at the back of the green.

Even though Casey was off the green, McIlroy was first to play because his ball was still 30 yards from the pin. The Northern Irishman held his nerve to roll his put to within three feet and put all the pressure on Casey.

Casey faced a difficult chip and seemed to misjudge it as he failed to make it out of the heavy rough. This effectively left him with a chip to try and extend the game. He did manage to go close, finishing up two feet from the hole.

If McIlroy felt any pressure, he didn’t show it. He calmly stepped up and drained his birdie putt, sealing his place in the semi-final.

Paul Casey said afterwards that he felt unwell this morning before the match resumed and it particularly affected him when he was standing over his chip.

“I feel very weak,” said Casey. “It’s unfortunate but in seasons as long as ours there are moments when you get sick. My expectations were low but it didn’t stop me trying. I actually hit two great shots, there.”

The World Number One now faces Jim Furyk in the last four at TPC Harding Park. In Sunday’s other semi-final, Willett, ranked 49, will face Gary Woodland of the United States, the world number 52.

Asked afterwards about his semi-final opponent, McIlroy said: “He can be a frustrating opponent. I hit the ball quite a bit longer than Jim, but he doesn’t make many mistakes and I’ll have to play well.”

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Donal Lucey

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