Tiger Woods gave the fans all they could ask Friday in the Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas.
And then Rory McIlroy gave them a little more.
Both won their matches, about 30 minutes apart, setting up a Saturday morning showdown between golf’s biggest name and its hottest player, only one of them moving on to the quarterfinals of a bracket that has only five of the top 16 seeds remaining.
“We’ve played tournaments together, battled each other down the stretch at events, but never in a match-play situation,” Woods said. “It’ll be fun.”
It was plenty fun getting to that point.
From massive, multi-level hospitality tents along the back nine at Austin Country Club, fans turned every direction possible as Woods made a 20-foot birdie to tie his match, a birdie to lead and then holed out from 83 yards for eagle to seize control against Patrick Cantlay.
He wasn’t finished.
Woods won a fourth straight hole with another 20-foot putt, and cheers from a half-mile away could be heard from fans inside corporate chalets watching on TV.
“Just got hot right when I needed it,” Woods said after his 4-and-2 victory.
Two groups behind Woods, McIlroy was rolling to another victory and took out Matt Fitzpatrick, 4 and 2. It was his third victory in three matches this week. McIlroy has not trailed and has led in 37 of the 42 holes he has played.
Woods and McIlroy have not faced each other in match play, except for two medal match exhibitions in China earlier this decade that McIlroy won.
They last time they squared off when it counted was in the final round last year at the Tour Championship, where Woods capped off his return from back surgeries with his first victory in five years.
“I just hope I put up a better fight than I did in Atlanta last year,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t have much of a game that day. But yeah, look, it’s exciting. It’s exciting for the tournament. I’m sure it’s going to be exciting for us. I feel good about my game. I played well all year. I’ve continued to do that this week. So it will be exciting.”
Woods (No. 13) and McIlroy (No. 4) were among only five top seeds to advance from their groups, joining Justin Rose (No. 2), Francesco Molinari (No. 7) and Paul Casey (10).
PGA Tour: Sungjae Im rebounded from an early double bogey to take the second-round lead in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
A day before his 21st birthday, Im finished with a 5-under-par 67 to improve to 10-under 134 for a one-stroke lead over Jonathan Byrd (67), Aaron Baddeley (67), Paul Dunne (69) and George McNeill (65).
LPGA Tour: Top-ranked Sung Hyun Park shot a 6-under 66 at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad (San Diego County) to take a share of the lead into the weekend. Thidapa Suwannapura also had a 66 to match Park at 10-under 134.
European Tour: Julian Suri shot a 5-under 67 for the second consecutive round to take two-shot lead over George Coetzee and Robert Karlsson after 36 holes at the Indian Open in New Delhi. Another shot back at 7-under were Callum Shinkwin (65) and Scott Hend (68).
PGA Tour Champions: Kevin Sutherland and Marco Dawson each shot 7-under 65 to share the first-round lead in the Rapiscan Systems Classic in Biloxi, Miss. Sutherland eagled the par-5 sixth hole.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/golf/article/Tiger-Woods-and-Rory-McIlroy-both-win-matches-to-13728170.php.