Rory McIlroy keen to take on old rival Patrick Reed at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 22/03/17 7:59pm
Rory McIlroy is hoping to settle an old score with US rival Patrick Reed if the two progress to the latter stages of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at the Austin Country Club this week.
The Northern Irishman was defeated by Reed after an epic battle in front of a hostile crowd on the final day of last year's Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
And McIlroy admits he has not forgotten the loss and would relish an opportunity to have another crack at Reed should the two men meet again this week in Texas.
"It would be nice to play Patrick again," McIlroy said of Reed, who has been drawn in an all-American group that also includes Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner and Jason Dufner.
"There is some unfinished business there that I would like to clear up. But we'll see what happens. He's played well in match play, especially in the Ryder Cup.
"It is something I'd really look forward to, to try to beat him and beat him by more than one hole, just so I have a little bit of an edge.
"Getting beaten on a single Sunday of Ryder Cup stings but it was a pleasure to be a part of that match because of the people [who] remember that for a long time."
McIlroy believes the match play format brings out his best competitive qualities of "a ruthless streak, selfishness and pride."
"I'm too proud to be beaten. I won't let anyone get up on me," McIlroy said. "I sort of think too much of myself to let anyone do that to me.
"So that's why I've always enjoyed match play because if you do get yourself into a bit of a dogfight out there, it's something I've always quite enjoyed."
The 64-player field in Austin is divided into 16 four-person groups, with each of the 16 highest-ranked players placed in separate groups.
Pool play competition is Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with every golfer playing against a group member once.
Each pool winner advances to the last 16 on Saturday, with the quarter-finals taking place later that day and both the semi-finals and final being held on Sunday.
World No 2 McIlroy has been drawn in a four-man group alongside American Gary Woodland, Argentina's Emiliano Grillo and Soren Kjeldsen.
McIlroy has past history with Woodland, having defeated him in the final of the event two years ago when the tournament was staged in San Francisco, and he hopes that can give him an edge this week.
"I certainly hope there is some sort of psychological advantage there," said McIlroy. "I did well the last time. I hope that's still in his mind. I think so, anytime you can get one-up on a guy, I think it helps a little bit."
McIlroy, who finished two off the lead in last weekend's Arnold Palmer Invitational, nevertheless said he was wary that Woodland's defeat in 2015 may give the American extra motivation.
"There's that revenge factor. He'll want to come back and try to get me for beating him a couple of years ago," McIlroy acknowledged. "I guess it could work both ways.
"I'm happy with that draw. I feel like I'm playing well enough. I feel like I can advance from that group and get myself into the weekend."