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Watch: Brian O'Driscoll holes huge putt to help Rory McIlroy to third in Japan skins game behind Jason Day and Tiger Woods

Rory McIlroy teamed up with Brian O'Driscoll during The Challenge Japan Skins to open the Zozo Championship week in Japan.
Rory McIlroy teamed up with Brian O'Driscoll during The Challenge Japan Skins to open the Zozo Championship week in Japan.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

'Mike Tyndall!...Excuse me, Brian O'Driscoll!' The commentator's faux pas underlined the fact that they weren't the stars of the show as four rugby legends stepped onto the golf course to play a part in The Challenge Japan Skins.

The duo were joined by South Africa's Bryan Habana and Australia's George Gregan to play the 170 yard par three seventh as rugby met golf.

It was all part of the money game between would-be winner Jason Day, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and home favourite Hideki Matsuyama in what was a light-hearted way to build up to the Zozo Championship at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club this weekend, when Japan will be at the centre of two sporting worlds.

There will be just 50 miles between the brand new PGA Tour event and the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in Yokohama.

In what was only ever supposed to be a nod from one to the other during Monday's match, the four rugby heroes were paired up with one of the golfing stars for their single-hole cameo.

But, ever the competitor, Brian O'Driscoll wasn't happy with merely turning up.

Rather, the former Ireland captain, a nine-handicapper, found the green with a well-struck tee-shot and rolled in the birdie putt to help Rory tie the hole.

In the scores, Woods led with five skins to Day's three at the turn but McIlroy bounced back into contention with a birdie to claim four skins.

Matsuyama got off the mark at the next but the sucker-punch arrived at the last, Day claiming five skins and a total prize of $210K with a birdie while McIlroy's chip and Woods' putt both slid.

Woods came in second on five skins but took home the same prize of $60K as Rory, while Matsuyama landed just one skin and $20K.

"It's good fun," reflected McIlroy. "We could fire at some pins. There are probably a few holes out there where, during the tournament, we won't hit driver but it was nice to get the drive in hand and have a hit, have a bit of fun. It was still quite competitive. It's great to be a part of something like this in Japan and kick off the week."

Woods, of course, was making his return after taking two months off since a T37th finish at the BMW Championship.

"I haven't done this is a little bit now," said the Masters champ. "I did not come out strong. I started awful but I got a little bit better. I hit some good shots towards the end."

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