McIlroy Confirmed For Dell Match-Play Ending Three-Year Austin Absence

Rory McIlroy will end a three-year absence to contest next fortnight’s final edition of the WGC – Dell Match-Play in Austin, Texas.

GolfByTourMiss 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 this morning (Monday) for the $US 20m event featuring the world’s top-ranked 64 in the world, again teeing-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 formal 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.

The Offaly golfer had faced an anxious overnight wait on Friday before learning mid-Saturday morning he had qualified for the closing two rounds of the Players Championship and went out to produce closing scores of 68 and 70 to finish just inside the leading 40 at four-under.

Following Lowry’s final round, he confirmed also he was heading to Augusta, taking his father Brendan and a friend, staying over on Sunday and also Monday night with practice rounds booked for Monday and Tuesday.

“For me, where we are in Florida, the Bear’s Club, they’ll have the greens rolling 14 plus they’ll have the place in pristine condition,” he said to the Irish Examiner.

“So, I’m going up (to Augusta) this evening, I’m playing there the next two days. I’m looking forward to that. Hopefully then when it comes to it on the Thursday of the tournament, I’ll be ready to go

Also bound for Austin, and like McIlroy and Lowry via Augusta, will be Power also for a practice round tomorrow (Monday), and electing not to contest this week’s Valspar Championship ahead of his next Tour stop in Austin.

In returning to Austin Power will have 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.

Power topped his match-play qualifying bracket and then went through to the last eight in defeating England’s Tyrrell 4 & 3 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 $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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