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McIlroy suffers heavy loss

Rory McIlroy was on the receiving end of an absolute hammering at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson.

The 21-year-old, who could have ended this week as the world number three and ahead of Tiger Woods for the first time in his life, suffered an eight and seven defeat to American Ben Crane.

There has only ever been one bigger loss in the 12-year history of the event. That was when Woods crushed Canadian Stephen Ames 9&8 five years ago but Northern Ireland will still have a representative in the last 16 as US Open champion Graeme McDowell reached the third round for the first time with a 4&2 victory over Ryder Cup team-mate Ross Fisher.

McIlroy fell behind instantly by bogeying the first and was then left helpless as Crane, currently ranked 38th in the world, breezed to the turn in an approximate five-under-par 31.

That was good enough for a six-hole lead, McIlroy then started the back nine as he began the match and after finding more trouble on the next he conceded without ever reaching the green.

In the first of two clashes between members of Europe's Ryder Cup side last October McDowell lost the first to Fisher, but was soon in control.

The Englishman was a semi-finalist two years ago and also won golf's other World Match Play event that season, but after coming back from two down to level by the seventh he immediately lost the next two.

Twice Fisher cut the gap to one, but he conceded the 14th and McDowell chipped to five feet for a winning birdie on the next.


From Belfast Telegraph