Tiger Woods won five of his last six holes Friday and got some help from Aaron Wise to advance through round robin play at the WGC-Match Play. What’s more, Friday’s win over Patrick Cantlay sets up a blockbuster showdown Saturday: Woods vs. Rory McIlroy.
“I’ll be ready,” Woods said.
Going into Friday’s matches at the WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods’s chances of advancing through round-robin play didn’t look great. When he went two down to Patrick Cantlay through eight holes, his chances looked even worse. But then he won the 9th hole. And the 11th. Then the 12th, too.
Then, at the short par-4 13th, Woods layed back off the tee with an iron, leaving himself 82 yards from the hole. By contrast, it seemed like Cantlay was the one giving himself the eagle try; he pulled driver and took a bold line at the pin, ending up greenside.
You already know what happened next. Woods tossed up a wedge that landed just long and right of the pin and zipped back, trickling perfectly into the side of the cup. As he unleashed a massive fist-pump in celebration, Cantlay could only sit by and watch.
Woods added a birdie to win No. 14, then another birdie at No. 16 to close things out 4&2.
McIlroy, meanwhile, entered the day in a far better position, having easily won his first two matches. He took down Matthew Fitzpatrick by the same score as Woods, 4&2, setting up their Sweet Sixteen matchup.
The last time Woods and McIlroy squared off (though not in a match play setting) was at the Tour Championship last year, when the two were paired in the final group on Sunday.
“I just hope I put up a better fight than I did in Atlanta last year,” McIlroy said with a grin.
“We’ve played tournaments together, battled each other down the stretch at events, but never in a match-play situation, so this will be fun if it works out,” Woods said.
“I’ve had fun all three matches and unfortunately yesterday didn’t really pan out the way I wanted it. But I’m advancing. I’m thankful for the format because I’d be going home yesterday. So I get a chance to play tomorrow morning and hopefully I can play well enough to continue advancing.”