Rory McIlroy found himself quickly taking on water Wednesday morning at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play event in Austin, Texas.
The four-time major champion’s tee shot on the fifth hole sailed wide left at Austin Country Club, bounded off the cart path and bounced over a fence before resting in a nearby swimming pool. He eventually went 3 down after five holes and dropped a 6 and 5 decision to Ian Poulter of England.
“I got 3 up in that match early. So being in that position against Rory, you kind of don’t want to let him back in the match because if he gets any kind of flow, he’s going to be a really tough opponent to shrug off,” Poulter said, per the Golf Channel.
McIlroy declined to speak with the media after his round.
McIlroy, 31, has plummeted from No. 1 to No. 11 in the official world golf ranking. The Northern Ireland native revealed on Monday that he is working with swing instructor Pete Cowen as he attempts to get his game back on track ahead of the upcoming Masters.
McIlroy is scheduled for a Round 2 meeting with American Lanto Griffin, who dropped a 1 up decision to Australian Cameron Smith in another Group 11 match.
Trailing by two with three holes to play, Smith birdied the 16th hole and benefited from a errant tee shot by Griffin on 17 before winning with a par on 18.
Also on Wednesday, Xander Schauffele benefited from birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 16 before picking up a half point for a tie after England’s Andy Sullivan was unable to sink a short putt on 17. Scottie Scheffler posted a 2 up win over Australian Jason Day in the other match in Group 6 play.
Daniel Berger showed no ill effects of a recent rib injury while competing in Group 14 play. He recorded five birdies on the front nine en route to posting a 6 and 4 decision over Erik Van Rooyen of South Africa.
–Field Level Media
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