Luke’s Blues: McIlroy last man standing as Europeans falter in Texas

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Rory McIlroy is the only European golfer remaining in the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play as he heads into the last-16 in Austin Texas in what has been a very disappointing showing from the Europeans.

Big European names like Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry have all gone crashing out at the group stage while McIlroy became the first golfer to win all three group matches on three occasions – 2015, 2018, 2023.

Seamus Power, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sepp Straka, Alex Noren, Victor Perez and Adrian Meronk also bowed out after the brackets.

While the week has made pretty reading for McIlroy so far, for his counterparts and Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald, it makes for slightly less positive viewing.

The tone was set early on Wednesday as Matt Fitzpatrick – who is yet to win a Ryder Cup point – was humbled 5&3 by 61st seed JJ Spaun.

Tyrrell Hatton didn’t fare much better against 62nd seed Ben Griffin who beat the Englishman 3&1. Rahm was pipped by Rickie Fowler 2&1 on an opening day where just two Europeans won (McIlroy, Meronk).

Day two wasn’t much better with Meronk beaten 4&3 by Finau early doors while, Hatton, Straka, Perez, Hovland and Lowry were all beaten and Fleetwood could only muster a half point with Maverick McNealy which knocked him out of the championship with a group game to spare.

Rahm was the big casualty of day three, failing to make a birdie as he was hammered 5&4 by 2021 champion Billy Herschel.

There was some slight redemption for Lowry who knocked Spieth out of the tournament with a 2&1 win while Power can count himself unlucky to be going home early after two narrow losses to Adam Scott and Sam Burns sandwiched his win over Adam Hadwin.

Hovland also picked up a win over Honda Classic champion Chris Kirk while Hero Cup star Perez eased by Adam Svensson.

Meronk was unfortunate to go home last evening after coming out on the wrong side of a three-way playoff to Kurt Kitayama and Tony Finau, despite beating Kitayama in round one.

Of the 96 matches that were played across the group stage, European wins were counted on just 11 occasions, with McIlroy and Meronk winning five (3 and 2).

McIlroy and Meronk also collected five points between them out of a total of 12 points from European players.

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