By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.
RORY MCILROY BELIEVES THAT TIGER Woods will still be the best player in the world even if he goes on to win the WGC-Accenture Match Play and takes over from Luke Donald as world No 1. Donald’s 5 and 4 defeat to Ernie Els means that world No 2 McIlroy and No 3 Lee Westwood have a chance of moving to the top of the rankings if they lift the trophy here on Sunday.
“I always dreamed about becoming the best player in the world,” McIlroy said. “But there’s a difference between the best player in the world and being ranked the top of the rankings. I would still say Tiger Woods is the best player in the world, but he’s not No. 1 in the world.
“It would be an incredible achievement, a great honour to add my name to the list of players that have been No. 1 in the world. I’ve always dreamed about it and I didn’t think it would come so fast, at 22. It shows if you work hard and dedicate yourself, in the end great things can happen.”
McIlroy must beat Denmark’s Anders Hansen in today’s second round to keep his boyhood dream alive and he will need to improve on his performance against South African George Coetzee if he is to have a chance.
“It’s always nice to get past the first one,” McIlroy said. “I struggled to finish it off.”
As for the world No 1 chase, he said: “To be honest, 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 No.1.”
McIlroy cannot face Woods until Sunday’s semi-finals but the American was fortunate to escape with a one hole victory over Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño. Woods will now face compatriot Nick Watney, who hammered an out-of-sorts Darren Clarke by 5 and 4.
The top seeds endured their worst day in the event since it began in 1999 with just 17 of the top 32 winning their opening matches. Three of the number one seeds made it through, however, with Donald’s heavy defeat to Els the only shock.
Westwood beat Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts 3 and 1 while Germany’s Martin Kaymer had a 4 and 2 win over Australian Greg Chalmers.
Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.