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Golf: After Tiger test, McIlroy defends landmark title

Published on Feb 28, 2013 6:04 AM
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot during the Honda Classic at PGA National on Feb 27, 2013, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, fresh off a private one-on-one match-play showdown with Tiger Woods. -- PHOTO: AFP

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (AFP) - Rory McIlroy, fresh off a private one-on-one match-play showdown with Tiger Woods, starts defending the Honda Classic title on Thursday, a win that first put him atop the rankings.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy held off a closing charge by Woods last year to claim the $6 million US PGA Tour event, which launched him to World No. 1 for the first time.

After falling behind England's Luke Donald, McIlroy took possession of the top ranking with a victory at the PGA Championship last August and has been World No. 1 ever since.

McIlroy has had a disappointing start to the 2013 season, missing the cut in his January debut in Abu Dhabi and losing in the first round at last week's World Golf Championships Match Play Championship.

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