The headline act turned into a box-office flop, with Woods recording a six-shot win and advancing to the semi-final.
But Woods was then bundled out himself when England’s Justin Rose holed a 110-yard wedge shot for eagle at the 14th to edge their clash.
Rose went from one behind to one in front to beat Woods with a 69, compared to the American’s 70, and set up an all-England final this morning with compatriot Lee Westwood.
Westwood shot a new Sultan Course record of a 10-under-par 61 in defeating South African Charl Schwartzel by six shots in their semi.
Rose and Westwood now fight for the €1.15 million first prize cheque while Woods and Schwartzel will face off for third place.
McIlroy’s reward for the week, on top of a reputed €750,000 appearance fee, was €230,000.
McIlroy headed off after his round to the spend the afternoon by hotel pool and no doubt wondering, that despite the hype of a new world golf rivalry, just how far he is still behind Woods in terms of sheer brilliance.
“I have never said ‘Good shot!’ as much as I do when I am playing with Tiger as he is solid from tee to green and while he didn’t hole that many putts, he still shot seven under,” said McIlroy.
“I’ve said it all year that he’s there and he’s playing so well and he’s going to continue to win tournaments, and he’s going to contend in the Majors.
“But the level of intensity he displays is impressive as he can just turn it on. It’s something that I struggle to do sometimes.”
McIlroy’s appearance in Turkey was his 21st tournament this year. He has played just three regular European Tour events with eight other Race to Dubai events, the four Majors and four WGCs, also counting on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy has competed in nine other regular season PGA Tour events, winning four, while he was on the winning Ryder Cup team.
However, as he headed off for an afternoon with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki lazing by the Kempinski Hotel pool, he’s already planning to drop two to three events in 2013.
“I would just love to cut my schedule back even further and I think next year I will cut it down again to a max play of 22 or 23.
“It’s nothing to do with playing both Tours, as I feel as though I’ve paced myself well this year. I didn’t play too much at the start of the year and I added Memphis because I felt I wasn’t playing that well, at the time.
“It was a busy stretch starting with the British Open up to and including the Ryder Cup, but then I don’t feel it’s taken that much out of me.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Gallacher began the Portugal Masters with a bogey-free 65 yesterday to share the early clubhouse lead with England’s former Ryder Cup player Ross Fisher at Oceanico Victoria.
“There’s not much rough and the greens are unbelievably good,” said Gallacher after collecting three birdies on each half during his six-under-par round.
Offaly’s Shane Lowry is just two shots further back after a 67.
Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal was paired with Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari.
None of them really sparkled in the first round, however. Kaymer had a two-under 69, Molinari a 71 and Olazabal a 75 that included hooking into the lake and running up a triple-bogey seven on the 18th, his ninth.
Darren Clarke, the possible successor to Olazabal for the 2014 match at Gleneagles, was one over until he holed his eight-iron approach to the ninth for a 71.
* Yesterday’s play at the Irish PGA Championship was cancelled due to the weather. The first round has been rearranged for today, starting at 8am with the same tee times.