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Turkish fright for McIlroy and Woods as both lose opening matches

updated 2:20 PM EDT, Tue October 9, 2012
Rory McIlroy sank to defeat during his opening match at the World Golf Finals in Turkey
Rory McIlroy sank to defeat during his opening match at the World Golf Finals in Turkey
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both lose opening matches at World Golf Finals in Turkey
  • The new 18-hole strokeplay tournament sees players split into two groups of four
  • McIlroy loses to Matt Kuchar while Woods suffers defeat at the hands of Charl Schwartzel
  • Woods and McIlroy to face each other on Wednesday when both might be eliminated

(CNN) -- It is not the scenario organizers of the World Golf Finals in Turkey envisaged.

Both world No.1 Rory McIlroy and 14-time major winner Tiger Woods could be eliminated before their much anticipated showdown in the strokeplay tournament on Wednesday afternoon after suffering defeats on day one.

The high-profile pair are among eight of the world's top players competing in the $5.2 million competition, designed to boost golf's profile in the Antalya region of Turkey, where two players go head-to-head over 18 holes with the lowest overall score winning.

But McIlroy lost by six shots to American Matt Kuchar, while a bogey on the final hole consigned Woods to defeat against 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, from South Africa.

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Should McIlroy lose to Schwartzel and Woods be beaten by Kuchar in Wednesday's morning matches, their clash in the afternoon would have nothing riding on it.

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McIlroy, who admitted he hadn't played much golf since Europe's miraculous comeback to win the Ryder Cup, had a disastrous run of holes to hand Kuchar the advantage.

The two-time major winner dropped seven shots on the final four holes, and even the presence of his girlfriend, Danish tennis star Caroline Woznaicki, couldn't arrest his slide.

"I hit a drive into the trees on 15 and lost a bit of confidence," McIlroy was quoted as telling reporters by AFP.

"I need to win both of my matches tomorrow if I am to advance. I just struggled for a bit of motivation out there so I need to go out and concentrate on both of my matches tomorrow."

Kuchar, who took advantage of the relaxed dress code and sported a pair of shorts during his match, added: "I just thought I had to play mistake-free and hopefully Rory wouldn't get too hot.

"There we are all square with four to go, he hits it right and makes triple bogey, and I go three up with three to go and I think both of us lost a little interest at that point."

Woods' clash with Schwartzel was a closer affair as the players headed down the final hole on the same score, but the American sent his approach into a bunker to make bogey and hand the South African the win.

"It came right down to the wire but I can't believe how far that second shot flew into the back bunker and that was the match," Woods said.

"It means now that I have to play 'Kooch' (Kuchar) and try and win that match before facing Rory in the afternoon but my main concern is 'Kooch' and trying and beat him.

"Despite the outcome I really enjoy the format and I haven't played this format since the times of the Dunhill Cup.

"It's not something that we play very often and we saw today how it can swing on you. I had a three-shot swing go against me on nine and a two-shot in my favor at 17 when I birdied the hole and Charl bogeyed."

In the other group, world No. 4 Lee Westwood, from England, fought back on the final two holes to beat U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson by one shot, carding a round of 72 compared to the American's 73.

Westwood's Ryder Cup teammate Justin Rose defeated American Hunter Mahan by four strokes in the other Group 1 clash with a round of 71 compared to Mahan's 75.

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