Rory McIlroy misses out on World No1 Spot

RORY McILROY¬†missed the chance to become golf’s world No.1 when he lost to Hunter Mahan in the final of the WGC Match Play Championship in Arizona last night.

The 22-year-old US Open champion from Northern Ireland fought back on the back nine before losing 2 and 1. He could not repeat his heroics of earlier in the day when he had recovered from three down after four holes to beat Lee Westwood in the semi-final.

Defeat for McIlroy means Englishman Luke Donald stays No.1. McIlroy said: “I played a great back nine but just left myself too much to do.

“When I didn’t eagle the 15th I knew it was going to be tough because he is very solid from tee to green.

“It wasn’t to be. I didn’t have my best game with me this week but I’m happy with how I’m playing and hopefully it won’t be long before I’m winning again.

“I’ve got two more tournaments before the Masters and that’s what I’m building up to.”

Mahan said: “I’ve just beaten the best player in the world right now for sure. I felt great with my game coming in, switched putters and was able to run it out.

“We didn’t play our best stuff early on but I was able to capitalise on a few miscues.”

The match was all-square after five holes but Mahan won the next three. He birdied the sixth then took advantage of McIlroy’s double-bogey on the seventh and bogey on the eighth.

The American birdied the 10th to go four up before McIlroy finally found some magic by chipping in on the par-five 11th for an eagle.

He then birdied the 13th but the Californian rolled in an eightfooter after chipping out of a bunker to halve the hole.

The Northern Irishman birdied the 14th – this time Mahan could not match him – and pulled it back to two.

The next three holes were halved and Mahan took the title and a cheque for $1.4million on the 17th. For McIlroy, the cash consolation prize was $850,000.

Earlier, McIlroy had beaten Ryder Cup team-mate Westwood 3 and 1 with a superb exhibition of matchplay golf.

McIlroy went behind on the second, found a greenside bunker on the third and then the greenside rough on the fourth, leaving Westwood three up after four holes.

But the world No.3 missed a putt from 10 feet to save par on the fifth and McIlroy birdied the sixth to cut the deficit to one.

The man from Hollywood, County Down, drew level at the par-five eighth with a birdie putt from 14 feet.

Then he birdied the ninth, 12th and 13th and, amazingly, after being three down through four holes, was three up after 13.

Westwood hit back with an eagle on the par-five 15th but McIlroy wrapped it up on the 17th.

There was more disappointment to follow for the Englishman who lost the third-fourth place play-off to Mark Wilson.

He was three down after 13 but won the next two holes to set up a last-hole finish but could not manage to hole a 20-foot putt and the American won one up.