Rory McIlroy wins opener at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play but Matt Fitzpatrick beaten

Rory McIlroy beats Scott Stallings 3&1 on opening day of WCG-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas; England’s Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton lose first matches in Austin; watch the tournament live on Sky Sports through until Sunday’s final

Last Updated: 22/03/23 7:58pm

Rory McIlroy beat Scott Stallings 3&1 on the opening day of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas

Rory McIlroy made a winning start to his bid for a second WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play title with a 3&1 victory over Scott Stallings in Texas.

McIlroy, who won this event in 2015, was three up thru six holes in Austin on Wednesday before being pegged back to one up thru nine by the world No 62.

However, the Northern Irishman birdied the par-three 11th – a hole his opponent bogeyed – to extend his lead and then secured victory at the par-three 17th with another birdie.

McIlroy will face Denny McCarthy and Keegan Bradley on Thursday and Friday respectively

McIlroy will face Denny McCarthy and Keegan Bradley on Thursday and Friday respectively

World No 3 McIlroy will play Denny McCarthy on Thursday and Keegan Bradley on Friday as he looks to finish top of his four-man group and make the knockout stages this weekend.

Each of the pool winners will advance to Saturday’s round of 16, with the quarter-finals held later the same day before the semi-finals and final take place on Sunday.

McIlroy’s win over Stallings was his first appearance since missing the cut at The Players two weeks ago.

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Elsewhere in the Match Play, Players runner-up Tyrrell Hatton lost 3&1 to Ben Griffin.

The Englishman could be doubtful for the the rest of the event after suffering pain in his right hand and arm hitting a shot on the range during his warm-up.

Reigning US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick’s struggles continued, meanwhile, with a 5&3 defeat to JJ Spaun.

Fitzpatrick has missed the cut in three of his last four starts, around finishing 14th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

How does the Match Play work?

The first three days are dedicated to round-robin match play, with the 64-player field split into 16 groups of four and only the winner of each group then progressing to the knockout stages.

If there is a tie at the top of the group, then a sudden-death play-off between those involved will determine who progresses through to the weekend.

The last 16 and the quarter-finals take place on Saturday, with the semi-finals scheduled for early on Sunday ahead of the final later that day. That means the winner will have played seven rounds over the five days to lift the trophy.

Watch the 2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play live on Sky Sports across the week.

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