McIlroy win makes big impression

As the American crowds were still coming to terms with the all too brief appearance of Tiger Woods at his long-awaited comeback, the 19-year-old he would have played in yesterday's third round of the Accenture World Match Play set about proving that the world No 1 was better off at home.

Such was the mauling that Rory McIlroy gave Tim Clark in advancing to the quarter-finals it was difficult to imagine anyone stopping the charge of the extraordinary young Ulsterman.

Of course, it is an entirely different proposition in squaring up to Tim instead of Tiger, but Clark had seen off Woods on Thursday and was meant to be intimidating opponent. Yet on the day when McIlroy gave America the full unedited view of his outrageous talent it appeared ever more unlikely that this ultra-cool champion of the future has a heart that is connected to a nervous system.

McIlroy was simply impervious to the supposed pressures in dispatching the South African 4&3. There were no bogeys on a card which featured five birdies, although perhaps the most impressive numbers were on the stats sheet which showed that he was up to 60 yards ahead of his rival on every drive. The rest of his game was not overshadowed; but the rest of his sport could be in the danger of being put into the shade.

Ernie Els certainly sees McIlroy's destiny as having no equal. "You're looking at the world's next No 1," he said. "Rory has got all the tools. He's hungry and is going to be a major factor in world golf." When told about the Big Easy's comments, McIlroy outlined his own objectives. "My main goal is to get into the world's top 10," he said. "And then if I can do that I'll try to get to No 2. I still have a long way to go."

Actually not that far; not if his many ever-growing army of admirers are to be believed. After seeing him in the flesh on his way to winning his first title in Dubai last month, Mark O'Meara, Wood's best buddy, declared that Rory was better than Tiger had been at the same age. Yesterday, that comparison did not look as outlandish as some of the American sceptics had clearly thought, including Paul Azinger, the triumphant Ryder Cup captain, who yesterday blurted out on the Golf Channel: "Rory is world No 16. I don't know about that."

Well Azinger and his countryman know now. For many of them, this has been their first view of the bushy-haired Ulster boy and only the absurdly myopic could have failed to have been impressed. If he can continue his startling run and prevail in tomorrow's final he will become the youngest winner in the history of the American Tour – on his very first outing on the American Tour. It would be a mind-blowing achievement but on this form he is well capable of it.

This morning he will face the Australian Geoff Ogilvy and should he come through that examination the winner of the Els and Stewart Cink encounter would await. Whatever, he has already stolen the show here, and what a show it has been. For the Irish and for the British. A record five Englishmen had advanced to the last 16 and two are still standing. Paul Casey beat Sweden's Peter Hanson with a routine 3&2 victory, while Ross Fisher's humbling of Jim Furyk was even more empathic.

It is fair to say that the Accenture debutant's 4&3 victory over the former world No 2 had not been anticipated by the desert gallery. The commentator for the local radio station shouted "Ross Who?" when he saw him moving ahead with a barrage of seven birdies. Fisher, last year's European Open, is very, very long and very, very confident and will not fear Justin Leonard this morning. He would dearly have loved to tee it up with his friend Oliver Wilson but the Mansfield man was touched out on the first sudden death hole by Leonard.

The afternoon got off to a bad start when Luke Donald was forced to concede his match to Els on the 18th tee when one down because of a worrying injury to his wrist. It was the same wrist which sidelined Donald for the last six months of 2008 after a tear to a tendon required surgery. Understandably, he was not prepared to risk it. "I hit my tee-shot on the 17th and for the first time since coming back I felt a twinge," he said. "It didn't feel great on the next shot either. So I played it safe and conceded the match to Ernie." Last night Donald was travelling to New York to see his consultant.

Donald's agony served only to heighten the drama and it was easy to forget that a certain superstar had taken his leave so unexpectedly the night previous. Woods, however, was pleased with how he hit the ball and how his reconstructed knee had held out on his return from an eight-month absence. He is now likely to appear at Doral in a fortnight, at Bay Hill two weeks later and after that at Augusta for the Masters. Rory will see him there.

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat