McIlroy hopes previous win can spur good form

MIAMI • Rory McIlroy believes he will carry a psychological edge into his duel with Gary Woodland after being drawn on Monday to face the American in the opening round of the World Golf Championship-Dell Match Play tournament.

The Northern Irishman defeated Woodland in the final of the event two years ago, when the tournament was staged in San Francisco.

The golf world No. 2 believes that the memory of that emphatic 4 and 2 victory will stand him in good stead when he locks horns with Woodland at Austin Country Club in Texas this week.

"I certainly hope there is some sort of psychological advantage there," said McIlroy. "I did well the last time. I hope that's still in his mind. Anytime you can get 1-up on a guy, I think it helps a little bit."

McIlroy, who finished two off the lead in last weekend's Arnold Palmer Invitational, nevertheless said he was wary that Woodland may be determined to settle the score.

"He'll want to come back and try to get me for beating him a couple of years ago," McIlroy acknowledged. "I guess it could work both ways."

As well as Woodland, McIlroy finds himself grouped alongside Argentina's Emiliano Grillo and Dane Soren Kjeldsen for this week's tournament.

Sixteen groups of four players will battle it out before advancing to a conventional straight knockout round over the weekend.

"I'm happy with that draw," McIlroy said.

"I feel like I'm playing well enough. I feel like I can advance from that group and get myself into the weekend."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'McIlroy hopes previous win can spur good form'. Print Edition | Subscribe