Fourteen-time Major winner Tiger Woods will play Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy in the last 16 of the World Golf Championship Dell-Technologies Match Play in Austin after both players won their final group games today.
After faltering on Thursday when he lost to fellow American Brandt Snedeker 2&1, the 43-year-old Woods bounced back to beat Patrick Cantlay 4&2, having been one down with eight to play at Austin Country Club.
Aaron Wise’s defeat of Snedeker 6&4 in the day’s other Group 13 contest ensured Woods finished top, while McIlroy, the 2015 winner, continued his unbeaten start with a 4&2 win over England’s Mathew Fitzpatrick.
That result ensured he finished top of Group Four.
Having lost to Snedeker yesterday, Woods had to win today to have any chance of going through and at one stage it looked as if the three-time champion might crash out.
After 10 holes Woods was one down, but with his place in the knockout rounds on the line, he played the next four holes in five under par, sealing the win with two holes to spare.
Talking afterwards about the prospect of facing four-time Major winner McIlroy, who is in strong form after winning the Players Championship earlier this month, Woods said it would be “a lot of fun”.
Speaking to BBC Sport, McIlroy said the match-up was “really exciting”.
“I didn’t put up much of a fight at the Tour Championship [when McIlroy last season carded a final-round 74 as Woods won the title] so, hopefully, I can give him a better game tomorrow.”
For the first time since the event was formed in 1999, eight Europeans have made it through to the last 16.
England’s world number two Justin Rose won Group Two with a one-up win over Gary Woodland from the US, while another Englishman and the winner at last week’s Valspar Championship, Paul Casey, advanced with a 4&3 win over Australia’s Cameron Smith.
Other Europeans to make it through include Henrik Stenson from Sweden and Spain’s 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia.
Woods versus McIlroy is set to begin at 9.30am local time tomorrow.