“It felt great”: McIlroy delighted to edge Herbert in last-16

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy was delighted to overcome the stubborn challenge of Lucas Herbert as he beat the Australian 2UP in a tense last-16 tie at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play.

McIlroy birdied the last after Herbert peculiarly laid up despite being a hole behind to book a quarter-final berth with Xander Schauffele and he remains on a collision course with Scottie Scheffler in the final should both progress.

It was a match where Herbert never let McIlroy go but the Holywood native was never behind, leading all the way from the seventh and although he was 2UP on several occasions his Aussie opponent clung on to bring the match the distance.


“It felt great. If you look at the stats over the last three days, Lucas probably played some of the best golf of everyone, so I knew I was in for a tough game. I got off to a really good start, but every time I hit it in close, he’d answer me with a birdie.

“It was one of those games where it was really back and forth. On that back nine I had to hole some nice putts coming in there to keep my nose in front, and this 18th hole has been good to me over the week. It would be nice not to have to play it.

“But yeah, another great drive up here and was able to two-putt on 18. Obviously very excited.”

The four-time major winner is now three matches without a dropped shot and he carded nine birdies – with some needed to halve holes in what was a high quality match.

“Yeah, it was pretty close. Again, nine birdies, no bogeys. I needed every one of those birdies to beat Lucas. He played great, as well,” said McIlroy who is growing in confidence with the putter despite a glaring shove on 13.

“Yeah, I feel like as the week has went on I’ve gotten more confident and started to get my eye in with the putter, as well. Holed some nice putts coming down the stretch to just keep my nose in front, and it was nice to close it out there on 18, and excited to get through.”

The 2015 match play winner faces a quick turnaround before teeing it up in a 2021 Ryder Cup rematch with Schauffele for a place in the last four.

“Yeah, a little rematch of our Ryder Cup dual in 2021 at Whistling Straits, so yeah, looking forward to it. Happy to get through and go try and recharge and refuel here and get ready for the next one.”

Meanwhile Scheffler came back from 2 DN with four to play to pip JT Poston on 18 where he will face Jason Day in the quarter-final while Sam Burns faces Mackenzie Hughes and Cam Young plays Kurt Kitayama.

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