Golf: McIlroy fate in balance after Woodland withdraws

Woodland conceded his second round group game with McIlroy (above) for personal reasons.
Woodland conceded his second round group game with McIlroy (above) for personal reasons.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Rory McIlroy's hopes of advancing from the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play were hanging by a thread on Thursday (March 23) after the sudden withdrawal from the tournament of group rival Gary Woodland.

Woodland conceded his second round group game with McIlroy for personal reasons, handing the Northern Irishman a victory a day after his shock defeat to Soren Kjeldsen.

"Due to a personal family matter, Gary Woodland must withdraw from the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play," a statement issued by Woodland's agent Mark Steinberg read.

"We ask that you respect his family's privacy at this time." With Kjeldsen having already beaten McIlroy and being assured of a walkover from his scheduled game against Woodland on Friday, it means that the Danish veteran will guarantee his place in the last 16 if he wins or halves his match with Emiliano Grillo later Thursday.

Woodland is the second golfer to withdraw from the tournament for personal reasons.

On Wednesday, distraught Australian star Jason Day conceded his match against American Pat Perez after only six holes at Austin Country Club.

He later revealed he had withdrawn to be with his mother, who is battling lung cancer.

The tournament in Texas sees the field split into 16 groups of four players who play each other on a round robin basis through Friday.

The 16 group winners then advance to the knockout rounds starting on Saturday.