Belek: World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and second-ranked Tiger Woods slumped to opening-day defeats at the inaugural World Golf Final on Tuesday.
Northern Irishman McIlroy was beaten by American Matt Kuchar in the invitational eight-man matchplay event in Turkey while Group One rival Woods lost to 2011 US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
In Group Two, English pair Lee Westwood (72) and Justin Rose (71) recorded respective victories over US Open champion Webb Simpson (73) and fellow American Hunter Mahan (75).
The two top in each section go through to the semi-finals of the $5.3 million tournament.
McIlroy had a nightmare late spell at the Antalya Golf Club, playing the last four holes in seven-over-par to finish with a 76 against Kuchar's one-under 70. “I hit my drive into the trees on 15 and lost a bit of confidence,” the US PGA champion told reporters. “I now need to win both my matches tomorrow to advance. I just struggled for a bit of motivation out there today.”
It was the first competitive round of golf for McIlroy and Kuchar since the Ryder Cup ended nine days ago.
McIlroy, 23, accompanied by tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, was two shots behind at the turn in the strokeplay format.
Kuchar, wearing shorts and looking refreshed after a week’s family holiday in Greece, said: “It was quite a match. I played really well on the front nine and was three ahead through 10 holes.
“I just thought I had to play mistake-free and hopefully Rory wouldn't get too hot,” added the American.
“Then we were all square with four to go, he hits it right and makes a triple bogey and I go three up with three to go and I think both of us lost a little interest at that point.”
Kuchar now meets Ryder Cup teammate Woods on Wednesday morning and Schwartzel in the afternoon.