SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Rory McIlroy kept some star power in the Match Play Championship on Friday by winning the last two holes with birdies to force overtime and then beating old foe Billy Horschel on the second extra hole to make it to the weekend.
Masters champion Jordan Spieth wasn’t so fortunate. All square in a match with Lee Westwood that featured chip-ins for halves on consecutive holes, Westwood delivered the clutch shot with a 6-iron to 12 feet for birdie on the 17th, and Spieth failed to birdie the 18th.
With a new format, one element didn’t change about this fickle tournament. The top players didn’t make it to the weekend. McIlroy (No. 1) and Jim Furyk (No. 5) were the only players in the top 10 who advanced to the round of 16 that starts a long weekend at TPC Harding Park.
Furyk had to go 20 holes to beat Martin Kaymer, and then he went one extra hole as a spectator with plenty at stake. Furyk was only assured of winning his four-man group if George Coetzee beat Thongchai Jaidee. The South African won in 21 holes, and Furyk advanced because he beat Coetzee on Wednesday.
McIlroy only had to beat Horschel, whom he hadn’t faced in this format since their contentious battles in the Walker Cup in 2007 when both were young and prone to irritate each other with their celebrations. McIlroy had only one birdie until making three straight at the end (one for a halve at the 16th), but none was bigger than his 20-foot putt on the 17th.
Horschel missed his birdie putt to win the match. Horschel chipped too strong and missed another birdie putt that would have won the match on the 18th. Horschel squandered yet another birdie opportunity on the par-5 first hole after a perfect tee shot. And then on the par-3 second, he chipped too strong again and missed an 8-foot par putt that gave McIlroy the match.
NORTH TEXAS SHOOTOUT
IRVING, Texas (AP) — Brooke Henderson shot a 6-under 65 in the North Texas Shootout, giving the 17-year-old Canadian the lead going into the weekend for the second straight week on the LPGA Tour.
Henderson had a bogey-free round to reach 8-under 134 total at Las Colinas, a stroke ahead of 2013 winner Inbee Park and 54-year-old Juli Inkster.
Denied a waiver to the LPGA Tour’s minimum-age requirement of 18 last year, Henderson earned the last spot in the field Tuesday in a playoff in the qualifier. Last week in California in the Swinging Skirts, she led after the second and third rounds, but fell a stroke short of a playoff that Lydia Ko won over Morgan Pressel.
The top-ranked Ko rallied Friday to push her career-long cuts streak to 51, following her opening 75 with a 68 to make it on the number at 1-over 143. The 18-year-old New Zealander was tied for 62nd.
Park had a 66, and Inkster shot 69.
Lexi Thompson, Mi Hyang Lee, Hee Young Park and Karine Icher were tied for fourth at 6 under.
Michelle Wie was four strokes back at 4 under after a 70. She was 7 under through 12 holes, but bogeyed three of the last four holes.
THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) — Marco Dawson and Michael Allen each shot 6-under 66 to share the first-round lead in the Champions Tour’s Insperity Invitational.
The 51-year-old Dawson had seven birdies and a bogey at The Woodlands Country Club. He won the Conquistadores Classic in March in Tucson, Arizona, for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour.
The 56-year-old Allen also had seven birdies and a bogey. He won twice last season.
Colin Montgomerie, Joe Durant and Woodlands resident Jeff Maggert shot 67, and Steve Pate and Billy Andrade followed at 68. Durant and Andrade teamed to win the Legends of Golf last week in Missouri.
Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 71.