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Friday 15 December 2017

Rory: Tiger’s still the best

RORY McILROYcould be golf’s world number one within a week after coming from behind at the Accenture World Match Play Championship in Tuscon, but still considers Tiger Woods the best player in the world.

Luke Donald’s 5&4 defeat to Ernie Els means that McIlroy or Lee Westwood could go to number one by winning the first of the season's world championships on Sunday. Second seed McIlroy came from behind at the turn to beat South African George Coetzee, while Westwood was an impressive six under par in overcoming Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.

McIlroy said: “I came in here yesterday and talked about if I play well and just win matches that will take care of itself.

“But obviously it's another incentive waking up each morning and knowing that if you win your match at the end of that day, at the end of the week you could be world number one. I haven't really thought about it. I saw the result on one of the scoreboards on 17. We'll see what happens.

“I have to get through a lot of matches before that. But it definitely gives me an added incentive this week.

Dreamed

“I always dreamed about becoming the best player in the world. There's a difference between the best player in the world and being ranked at the top of the rankings.

“I would still say Tiger Woods is the best player in the world, but he's not number one in the world.”

McIlroy takes on Anders Hansen in the next round.

Fellow Irishmen Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell will not be in action over the weekend. Clarke slumped to a 5&4 defeat to American Nick Watney, while McDowell crashed out 2&1 in a classic with South Korea’s YE Yang.

“I ran into a man that played extremely well,” a frustrated McDowell said. “I felt like I had to follow him all day long, and I did most of the day, but he didn't put a foot wrong.

“I made six birdies today. You just run into the wrong guy on the wrong day, and you have got your work cut out.”

Three of the sport's top 10 are already out. Italian teenager Matteo Manassero knocked out sixth-ranked Webb Simpson, while Robert Rock, conqueror of Woods and the world’s top four in Abu Dhabi last month, got the better of eighth-ranked Adam Scott.

Scots Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird won. They now play Ryo Ishikawa and Manassero, while Rock faces Mark Wilson.

Tiger Woods trailed Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano by one with four to play, but won the next two and held on – just.

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