Rory McIlroy will feel he has a great chance of making the knockout stage of this week’s Volvo World Matchplay in Spain.
With the group stage for the new-look competition — being played away from Wentworth since the event’s conception in 1964 — seeded by the world rankings, it was just chance that the four leading contenders in the Race to Dubai standing would be kept apart.
But that’s exactly what happened as Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, McIlroy and Paul Casey ended up in separate groups keeping alive the possibility of all four going head-to-head in the weekend’s 36-hole semi-finals and final.
This week at the Finca Cortesin course near Marbella sixth seed McIlroy is up against US Masters champion Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, Swede Henrik Stenson and England’s Simon Dyson.
McIlroy, who won two matches at the WGC matchplay in Arizona |earlier this year, beat Stenson in|last month’s Vivendi Seve |Trophy on his way to securing four points out of five in Great Britain and Ireland’s win.
Top seed Paul Casey, out of action since August 6 with a torn rib muscle, faces South African Retief Goosen, American Anthony Kim and Australian Scott Strange.
German Martin Kaymer, who like Casey and McIlroy has the chance to take the number one spot off Westwood if they make it through their groups into the semi-finals, is the fifth seed.
Kaymer tackles Spain's Sergio Garcia, Australian Robert Allenby and England's up and coming Oliver Wilson.
Second seed Westwood is up against Colombian Camilo Villegas, fellow Englishman Ross Fisher and India's Jeev Milkha Singh.
Meanwhile, Cabrera will compete in next week's HSBC Champions event in Shanghai and will, therefore, be eligible for the Dubai World Championship two weeks later.
After Cabrera missed his tee-off time and was disqualified from the Castello Masters in Spain last week — he had been delayed en route from the Grand Slam in Bermuda the previous day — there was speculation he might not play the minimum 12 events required by the European Tour for entry into the season-ending championship.
But the Argentinian has told the Tour he will be flying on from Spain to join the star-studded field headed by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.