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McIlroy bounces back with win, Lowry loses out and Thomas exits at WGC Match Play

Shane Lowry was defeated by Jon Rahm in Round 2 in Texas.

Image: David J. Phillip

Updated Mar 25th 2021, 11:02 PM

RORY MCILROY GOT back on track at the WGC Match Play in Texas with his 4&3 win over Lanto Griffin in Round 2 today.

But Shane Lowry lost out again at the event in Austin as Jon Rahm finished two up in their group match, another defeat after Lowry had been edged out yesterday by Ryan Palmer.

Lowry made a bright start, winning the 2nd and 3rd holes to go two up, but then Rahm started to take control to go one up after the front nine. He was three up by the 15th but Lowry finished impressively with birdies on the 16th and 17th to see the match go to the last hole before Rahm triumphed.

McIlroy, who lost out heavily to Ian Poulter yesterday, began strongly with three birdies in his opening three holes helping him get off to a lightning start.

American golfer Griffin cut the gap to one by the end of the front nine but McIlroy kicked on again with a birdie on the 10th and after he went four up by the 13th, he was able to close it out by the 15th.

Ian Poulter is still in the driving seat in Group 11, currently three up in his second game against Australian Cameron Smith.

McIlroy then clarified his coaching situation after adding Pete Cowen to his team to work alongside long-time coach Michael Bannon.

“Michael is like a second dad to me, so Michael and I’s relationship and, I guess, agreement is still the same,” McIlroy said.

match-play-golf Rory McIlroy in action in the WGC Match Play Championship. Source: David J. Phillip

“It’s just the fact that I haven’t been able to see him as much recently, and then because there hasn’t been much continuity there, it feels like every time we saw each other it was almost like we were trying to do too much.

“I think Pete is out on Tour enough to give me maybe feels that I can play with and then stuff that I can work on on the range, because as everyone knows, it’s so hard to go out on the golf course and think so much about your golf swing.”

World number two Justin Thomas crashed out of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play as top seed Dustin Johnson brilliantly avoided a shock defeat to Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre.

match-play-golf Justin Thomas reacts to his tee-shot on the fifth hole. Source: David J. Phillip

Johnson was two down with two to play at Austin Country Club, but the world number one and Masters champion made an eagle on the par-five 16th and birdied the 17th to leave both players with one and a half points from two matches in group one.

“He holed putts when he had to hole putts,” a disappointed MacIntyre said. “He does that to win numerous majors. I’m young. I’ve got plenty of time ahead of me.

Thomas came into the event on the back of winning the Players Championship, but lost 3&2 to Matt Kuchar on day one and 2&1 to defending champion Kevin Kisner on Thursday.

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Kuchar’s narrow victory over former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen means group two will be settled by Friday’s match between Kuchar and Kisner, a repeat of the 2019 final won by the latter.

Kisner looked to be cruising to victory when he moved four up after seven holes, but lost three holes in a row from the 11th before making a vital birdie on the 16th.

Matt Fitzpatrick kept his hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive with a 5&4 win over Canada’s Corey Conners, hopes boosted by Jordan Spieth finishing double-bogey, bogey to halve the other match in group 15 against Matthew Wolff.

Norway’s Viktor Hovland made an early exit after suffering a 4&2 defeat to Bernd Wiesberger, but Bryson DeChambeau bounced back from his opening loss to Antoine Rozner.

DeChambeau’s drive on the 10th was measured at just 46 yards after hitting a tree just in front of the tee, but the US Open champion went on to secure a 2&1 win in group five.

Tommy Fleetwood holds the upper hand in that group after beating Rozner 4&3 and takes on DeChambeau on Friday.

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