Woods, McIlroy set for showdown at Mission Hills

Updated: 2013-10-28 07:28

By Tym Glaser (China Daily)

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The world's top ranked golfer, Tiger Woods, and his immediate predecessor, Rory McIlroy, will wield their Nike clubs in The Match at Mission Hills at Haikou , Hainan Island, on Monday.

The 18-hole exhibition on the par-73 Blackstone Course at the massive 180-hole resort will be the second one-on-one showdown in China between two of the game's most popular players.

McIlroy edged Woods by a stroke at a chilly and damp Lake Jinsha International Golf Club, Zhengzhou, Henan province, last year.

This year's event is expected to be played in much more benign conditions, but followed by another large and boisterous gallery.

"I'm hoping to win this time," the ever-competitive Woods said last month. "I've had a really good year on the PGA Tour, so it would be nice to win another trophy in China ."

Said Northern Irishman McIlroy: "I am expecting a lot of fun this time in Hainan. Tiger has played better golf this year, but I feel I am getting my game back again and I look forward to any challenge - especially against Tiger - so I am ready for another showdown."

Much of the talk before and during The Duel at Lake Jinsha was about McIlroy's impending move from Titleist to Nike, the same equipment stable as Tiger.

That switch hasn't panned out too well thus far for the 24-year-old as he is winless on the Tour this season and has seen his ranking drop from No 1 to No 6.

At The Match, there should also be a fair amount of buzz around precocious Chinese teenager Guan Tianlang, who will square off against Woods and McIlroy in a skills competition before his seniors take off on their 18-hole jaunt.

Guan made history this year by becoming the youngest player, at 14, to compete in the US Masters at Augusta and also the youngest to make the cut at a major tournament.

The provisional format of the skills challenge will feature the trio hitting shots at three targets measuring 50, 100 and 125 yards.

"It's pretty exciting for me to compete against Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in a skills challenge," said Guan, a regular at Mission Hills' youth tournaments since 2008.

"As the event is taking place in China, I hope to get some local support. I might have a chance because these are short targets. I'm just glad it's not a long-driving contest!"

Tee time on Monday is 12:35 pm.


(China Daily 10/28/2013 page24)