Rory McIlroy used a strong finish to edge Tiger Woods by one stroke on Monday in an 18-hole exhibition match at Mission Hills in Haikou, China. Promoted as "The Match at Mission Hills," McIlroy carded four birdies and an eagle down the stretch to shoot a 6-under-par 67 on the par-73 Blackstone Course. Tiger, battling a virus he picked up from his daughter, posted a 68.
Woods and McIlroy talked throughout the tightly contested match, although Tiger's voice was hard to hear at the finish. He owned a one-stroke lead heading to the par-5 12th, where he knocked his second shot 10 feet from the hole. McIlroy did even better, hitting a long iron to five feet. Both sank their eagle putts.
Woods and McIlroy followed with birdies at the 13th hole, then McIlroy pulled even with a six-foot birdie putt at the 14th. Both birdied the 16th hole before McIlroy pulled ahead at the par-4 17th. After coming up short with his approach, Tiger nearly chipped in, but missed a five-foot par putt. At the par-5 18th, Woods reached the green in two but was unable to convert a 20-foot eagle putt. McIlroy clinched the win by holing a three-foot birdie.
"I don't sound all that well right now, but it was nice that it was warm out there today," Tiger said. "That certainly helped because I think my fever broke, and I can start feeling a little bit better. But I tell you what, when you have kids, they bring home some strong bugs, and this one has definitely been kicking my butt for the last couple of days."
The unofficial victory marked McIlroy's first of 2013.
"I would like to play all my tournaments in China where I can beat Tiger," cracked McIlroy, who also defeated Woods last year at Jinsha Lake.
Tiger returns to competition next week in the European Tour's Turkish Airlines Open at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Belek, Antalya, near the Turkish Mediterranean coast.