McIlroy and Woods step into golf’s twilight zone

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods ended their ‘Duel at Jinsha Lake’ to the music of The Magnificent Seven but then Manic Monday may have been a better choice in Zhengzhou.

After his defeat to Woods at the World Golf Final in Turkey last month, McIlroy turned the tables by winning the medal match play event with a five-under-par 67 to Woods’s 68 on a cold day in north-central China.

McIlroy had been soundly beaten by Woods the last time they met but then their showdown in this city of 10 million was purely exhibition — inside and outside the ropes.

McIlroy got an early break on Woods, shooting birdies at the first and third holes amid chaotic scenes that saw security staff physically tackling spectators in order to keep the security line intact.

McIlroy’s round was bogey free while Woods had six birdies and two bogeys but never had the duo seen so many iPads and mobile phones present at a golf tournament.

The bizarre sights and sounds continued right up to the presentation, with two spectators taking photos of each other from the edge of the green as Woods was putting out.

Then an official pushed through the throng to hand Woods’s manager Mark Steinberg a silver tray holding some six apples and two boxes of takeaway fried chicken for his star client, who hadn’t had lunch.

“This certainly was not my usual way I spend Mondays but to have this many people come out and watch us play golf, and go head-to-head in this exhibition was something special,” said Woods.

McIlroy responded: “I wouldn’t call it crazy but rather I would say the crowd was enthusiastic. It was so good to see so many people want to watch us play and the growth of the game in this part of the world over the last 10 to 15 years has been huge, and you could see that with all the young kids who followed us around.

McIlroy had left Shanghai on Sunday bitterly disappointed to have been pipped to the BMW Masters title by Peter Hanson. But for the time being, and while he spends the week supporting tennis girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki in the WTA season-ending event in Sofia, McIlroy could take his mind off golf.

“More than anything today has been a nice distraction and it helped me not to dwell on what happened in Shanghai,” he admitted.

“I let a good chance to win a golf tournament slip through my fingers and everyone could see I was disappointed when I walked off the golf course.”

There was no prize money on offer yesterday, instead McIlroy was handed an ornate Chinese vase while Woods received a smaller version.

But then the duo are believed to have split $3 million (€2.35m) in appearance fees for their day’s work.

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