Truth & Rumors: Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood could take over No. 1 this week
Luke Donald's week may end up getting even worse. Thanks to his opening-round loss to Ernie Els at Dove Mountain, the Englishman's 39-week reign as the No. 1-ranked player in the world is now in jeopardy. Either Rory McIlroy or Lee Westwood can rise to No. 1 by winning the Accenture Match Play Championship. McIlroy was aware of the possibility before the tournament began, but he says he is determined not to let the ranking become his primary focus.
"To be honest, I came in here yesterday and talked about if I play well and just win matches, that will take care of itself. But obviously it's another incentive waking up each morning and knowing that if you win your match at the end of that day, at the end of the week you could be World No.1. Yeah, I haven't really thought about it. I saw the result on one of the scoreboards on 17, I think. So, yeah, we'll see what happens. I have to get through a lot of matches before that. But it definitely gives me an added incentive this week."
McIlroy faces Anders Hansen in the second round Thursday, while Westwood will attempt to advance past Round 2 for the first time in his career when he meets Robert Karlsson.
Weir could soon lose Tour card
Eight-time PGA Tour winner Mike Weir continues his long road back to full-time PGA Tour status this week at the Mayakoba. It will be the second Tour start this season for Weir, who missed the cut two weeks ago at Pebble Beach on a sponsor's exemption. The 2003 Masters champion had elbow surgery in August 2011 and was given a “non-exemption medical extension" for 2012, which leaves him three tournaments to earn $644,854 and retain his card. Canada.com has more with Weir's agent, Danny Fritz.
“He can’t play every tournament,” Fritz added. “Pebble was an exemption, but the Tour also looks at it as a ‘start.’ So regardless of whether it was an exemption or he got in on his own merit, it’s a start, and he’s only allowed three starts.”
Weir will make his third start in the Honda Classic next week.
Els takes out Donald thanks to ... intimidation factor?
The biggest upset of the opening round was 16-seed Ernie Els's takedown of top-ranked Luke Donald. At his press conference after the match, Els said he felt Donald may have been hoping for a different draw.
Q. The other question is, is when Luke found out he was probably playing you, we talked to him at Northern Trust. He kind of took a step back, because obviously he didn't think he was going to be playing somebody as formidable. At the same time you're playing the No.1 player in the world. What did you think about coming into this match in that situation?
ERNIE ELS: As I said before, I'm sure he didn't want to play me. Obviously I can play a little bit of golf. So I'm sure he didn't really want to face me. And I was just glad to be in the event. So if I was going to play Luke or Rory or Westwood, I knew I had to be on my game. So it was a bit of a situation coming into this week. Last week wasn't great, but Monday and Tuesday I could practice and felt comfortable. I played the Callaway ball, the HX ball, which launches a bit higher and in this altitude I felt that an advantage on Luke, if I played him.
Tweet of the Day
For those unable to watch the frantic opening days of the Match Play, this is probably a popular opinion.
I still say Match Play Championship should start on Friday and end on Monday. The masses miss the best golf on Wednesday and Thursday.— Matt Ginella (@Matt_Ginella) February 23, 2012