Match Play exits for Stenson, Rose and McIlroy

Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:45pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - The sheer lottery of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was again front and center on Thursday as top seeds Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose were all eliminated in the second round.

Swede Stenson, seeded one this week, never led before going down 4&3 to South African Louis Oosthuizen while fourth-seeded Northern Irishman McIlroy lost a see-sawing encounter with American Harris English after 19 holes.

In the final match of the day at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona, U.S. Open champion and second seed Rose was pipped by Els after 20 closely contested holes, the big South African sealing victory with a magical birdie at the par-five second.

Former world number one Els somehow struck his third shot from a near-impossible lie in a greenside bunker to within three feet of the flag before Rose needed two strokes to escape the sand on the way to a losing par five on their 20th hole.

McIlroy, beaten by American Hunter Mahan in the 2012 final, had clawed his way back from two down after 13 holes to edge one up after 16 on another breezy day of dazzling sunshine in Arizona's high desert.

However, English levelled the match with a birdie at the par-four 17th and sealed victory after his opponent made a compete hash of the 19th.

"Obviously a little bit disappointed with how I finished," McIlroy told reporters. "Being two down with five to go, playing the last five holes like I did, I was happy about that.

"I didn't hit the greatest drive off the 19th and got a pretty bad lie in the rough. It was just unfortunate. I played pretty well for the most part.

"But, you know, he played really solid today and didn't really do much wrong, didn't really give me anything. So the more consistent player won at the end of the day."   Continued...

 
Henrik Stenson of Sweden poses with his 2013 Race to Dubai trophy after winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai November 17, 2013. REUTERS/Caren Firouz