SAN FRANCISCO – Rory McIlroy wanted to start earlier Saturday. That won’t be an issue on Sunday.
McIlroy and Paul Casey will resume their quarterfinal match at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at 6:45 a.m. local (9:45 a.m. ET) Sunday morning after darkness stopped Saturday’s playoff before it could head to its fourth hole.
McIlroy appeared to have the match in his grasp when he chipped to set up an 8-foot birdie look at the driveable 16th. It lipped out.
Did the darkness impact his read of the line?
“Probably,” he said. “This obviously could have been avoided if we went off a little earlier. … But it’s just the position that I’m in.”
In the back-and-forth match, McIlroy was 2 down after Casey birdied the seventh, but he chipped away with wins at 10, 13 and 17, where Casey missed an 8-footer that would have kept him 1 up with one to play.
“I dodged a couple of bullets,” Casey said. “But I also felt like I gave him one, too. I’m glad we’re teeing off tomorrow, simple as that.”
The quarterfinal playoff will resume at No. 1 Sunday morning, with the winner advancing to play Jim Furyk in the semifinals.
UPDATE: McIlroy and Casey returned Sunday morning to play a fourth extra hole, the first hole. Casey, who had gotten sick overnight and not slept, found some thick rough off the green with his approach and was unable to match McIlroy’s birdie.
“I was sick overnight. Just very weak,” said Casey after the match. “Actually I hit two great shots into one. I got a very sticky lie on the back of the green. Rory made a one for birdie. It is what it is.”
Gary Woodland def. John Senden, 5 & 3
After making five birdies in a Round of 16 victory over Marc Leishman, Woodland came out firing in his quarterfinal contest against Senden, making birdie on four of his first five holes en route to a comfortable 5 & 3 win.
Woodland jumped out to the advantage on the very first hole, when he two-putted for birdie to Senden’s three-putt par. He didn’t let up, making birdie putts of 21, 4 and 8 feet respectively on holes 3-5 to stake a 4-up lead.
Senden failed to make much of a dent in the early deficit, with his lone birdie coming on No. 12. The match was conceded with Woodland in close for birdie on the par-4 15th.
“I got off to a great start,” said Woodland. “I put pressure on him early, and I made some putts down the stretch. I’m excited about the way I’m playing.”
Woodland’s path to the semifinals:
Rd. 1: Def. Jimmy Walker, 19 holes
Rd. 2: Def. Ian Poulter, 3 & 2
Rd. 3: Def. Webb Simpson, 1 up
Rd. of 16: Def. Marc Leishman, 2 & 1
Quarterfinals: Def. John Senden, 5 & 3
Danny Willett def. Tommy Fleetwood, 4 & 3
In this battle of twenty-something Englishmen making an early mark on the international stage, it was the 24-year-old Willett who brought the most game, making birdie on three of his first five holes and controlling the match from No. 3 onward.
Willett took his first lead with a 14-footer for birdie on the par-4 third, extended it to 2 up with a par on No. 4, and maintained the 2-up advantage at the turn. His second bogey of the day on No. 10 brought Fleetwood within a hole, but Willett won the next two to regain a solid cushion.
Willett got up and down for par to win the 14th hole and move 4 up, and a halved par on No. 15 closed the match.
“You have to feel comfortable in this format,” Willett said. “Everyone is a good player; they can very easily throw a few birdies at you. Just keep trying to press.”
Willett’s path to the semifinals:
Rd. 1: Def. Ryan Moore, 3 & 2
Rd. 2: Def. Patrick Reed, 2 & 1
Rd. 3: Def. Andy Sullivan, 1 up
Rd. of 16: Def. Lee Westwood, 3 & 2
Quarterfinals: Def. Tommy Fleetwood, 4 & 3
Jim Furyk def. Louis Oosthuizen, 4 & 2
The match was closely contested through the first nine holes, but Furyk turned on the jets down the stretch, leading to a surprisingly comfortable victory. Fatigue clearly was not a factor for the 44-year-old American, who won five holes on the back nine, including three consecutive on Nos. 14-16 to seal the victory.
Entering the back nine 1 down, Furyk drew all square with a 3-footer for birdie on No. 10. He took the lead with an up-and-down for birdie on the short par-4 12th. The 14th was conceded after Oosthuizen drove his tee shot into a water hazard, and birdies from inside 10 feet on Nos. 15 and 16 provided the final punch.
“The conditions were tough,” Furyk said. “The back nine, holes 10 through 14 are right by the lake. The wind is whipping across the lake, picking up the coolness. You’re playing all those holes in a left-to-right wind.
“It’s a difficult stretch of holes, and I played them really well. That was the difference.”
Furyk’s path to the semifinals:
Rd. 1: Def. George Coetzee, 3 & 2
Rd. 2: Lost to Thongchai Jaidee, 3 & 1
Rd. 3: Def. Martin Kaymer, 20 holes
Rd. of 16: Def. J.B. Holmes, 5 & 3
Quarterfinals: Def. Louis Oosthuizen, 4 & 2
Long after the other three quarterfinal matches had been completed, this was the match that didn’t want to end. Leading 1 up with two holes to play, Casey missed a 6-footer for par on No. 17 that allowed McIlroy to pull even. Both players missed birdie putts of approximately 15 feet on the par-5 18th, and the first three extra holes were halved with pars before play was called due to darkness.
Casey used three birdies on the front nine to take a 2-up lead at the turn, but McIlroy quickly cut into the deficit with a 21-footer for birdie on No. 10 and squared the match with a par on No. 13. Casey regained the edge with an up-and-down for par on the next hole, only to lose it again three holes later.
McIlroy and Casey returned Sunday morning to play a fourth extra hole, the first hole. Casey, who had gotten sick overnight and not slept, found some thick rough off the green with his approach and was unable to match McIlroy’s birdie.
“It’s the worst I’ve felt in a long time and the best I’ve played it. I was unfortunately sick overnight, so just very weak today,” Casey said after the match. “Still feel a little nauseous, which is ‑‑ when you’re giving up ten yards anyway to Rory and then you stand on that first tee not in the best form, felt like giving up 20 or 30 yards to him today.”
McIlroy’s path to the quarterfinals:
Rd. 1: Def. Jason Dufner, 5 & 4
Rd. 2: Def. Brandt Snedeker, 2 up
Rd. 3: Def. Billy Horschel, 20 holes
Rd. of 16: Def. Hideki Matsuyama, 6 & 5
Casey’s path to the quarterfinals:
Rd. 1: Def. Chris Kirk, 22 holes
Rd. 2: Def. Adam Scott, 1 up
Rd. 3: Def. Francesco Molinari, 1 up
Rd. of 16: Def. Charl Schwartzel, 3 & 1