McIlroy confirmed for Dell Matchplay – Only event between now and The Masters

Fatiha Betscher

Rory McIlroy (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy will end a three-year absence to contest next fortnight’s final edition of the WGC – Dell Match-Play in Austin, Texas. Irish Golfer Magazine has also learned it will be McIlroy’s only event from now and ahead of the April 6th starting Masters.

McIlroy’s return to the Lone Star State will be formally confirmed on Monday morning for the $US20m event featuring the world’s top-ranked 64 in the world who will tee-up on the host Austin Country Club course.

This year there’s eight LIV Tour golfers among those top 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, so the event is sure to make for some ‘interesting’ matches. McIlroy 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, and his return is a huge boost for sponsors.

After missing the Players cut, McIlroy is heading to Augusta National this week to squeeze-in a practice round ahead of making his 15th straight Masters showing since his debut drive up Magnolia Lane in 2009.

This break from formal competition will allow McIlroy also to get away from the continuing off-course distraction of being the unofficial mouthpiece for the PGA Tour in their fight with LIV Golf, and get more focussed on his golf.

“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 after missing the Players cut.

“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 will join McIlroy and look to do better than 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.

Also bound for Austin but like McIlroy and that’s via Augusta will be Power who, along with his caddy, are tackling Augusta National on Monday for a practice round, and electing not to contest this week’s Valspar Championship ahead of his next Tour stop in Austin.

Power will return to Austin with fond memories of finishing T5th a year ago, and 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 before bowing out to American Scottie Scheffler in the quarter-finals. Scheffler defeated Power 3&2 and with the American eventually making his way into the final, and collecting the $US2.1m 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 it is understood went down like a lead balloon.

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