Irish trio easily qualify for Dell Match Play but will McIlroy tee-up in Texas?

Fatiha Betscher

Rory McIlroy (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Fatiha Betscher

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Ireland’s top-three golfers will be formally confirmed Monday morning as starters for next fortnight’s final hosting of the WGC – Dell Match-Play at Austin, Texas.
The leading 64 on the World Rankings qualify to tee-up in the $20m event starting March 22nd in the Lone Star State capital though history shows that not all those inside the 64 compete. 
This year there’s eight LIV Tour golfers among those 64 and by all rights, and given the event is not run by either the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour but by the Federation of Tours, it is sure to make for some interesting matches.
World No. 3 Rory McIlroy, if he elects to contest the event, will lead the Irish trio that also includes Shane Lowry and Seamus Power.
A year ago, McIlroy chose not to travel to Austin and instead took a two-week break following the Players before teeing-up in the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, in the week prior to the Masters.  In fact, McIlroy has not been sighted in Austin since he contested the 2019 tournament, losing 2&1 to Tiger Woods in the opening match of the last 16.
Would the thought of facing Patrick Reed, currently ranked World No. 64, change McIlroy’s mind?
McIlroy gave no indication ahead of missing the Players Championship cut if he will play in either of the two events in Texas before the Masters but was focussed more on getting back to being a golfer and not a mouth-piece for the PGA Tour.
“My golf is fine, but it’s just more the time at home to make sure you’re getting prepared, to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to be ready once you show up to these weeks,” he said.  “That’s where I’ve maybe sacrificed a little bit of time with some of this other stuff.
“As I said, I’m ready to get back to being purely a golfer.”
Lowry should be a definite starter despite being bumped-out in last year’s event with just the one win in the qualifying stages of the only ‘individual’ match-play tournament among the top-two tours in men’s pro golf.
Power and his caddy have made their way to Augusta for a practice round tomorrow (Monday), electing not to contest this week’s Valspar Championship ahead of his next Tour stop in Austin.
Power will make his way to Austin with fond memories of finishing T5th a year ago, a result that earned him a maiden Masters invitation, and with the Waterford golfer last December receiving a second letter stamped ‘Augusta, GA’ by being inside the world’s top-50.
A year ago, Power topped his match-play qualifying bracket and then went through to the last eight in before bowing out to American Scottie Scheffler in the quarter-finals with the American eventually making his way into the final and collecting the $US 2.1m first prize purse, a fortnight before being fitted with an Augusta National members green jacket.
Disappointingly, the match-play is off the schedule next year with suggestions the host Austin club sought more money from the PGA Tour to host the event, a request that is understood went over like a lead balloon.

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