Austin, Texas — Tiger Woods sent fans into a frenzy Friday with a sublime stretch of golf that left them wanting more at the Dell Technologies Match Play.
And that’s what they’ll get.
Woods won four straight holes with three birdies and an 83-yard lob wedge that spun back into the hole for an eagle, carrying him into the weekend with a 4-and-2 victory over Patrick Cantlay.
“Just got hot right when I needed it,” Woods said.
It gets even better: Next up for Woods is Rory McIlroy, the hottest player in golf.
McIlroy won his group by beating Matt Fitzpatrick, 4 and 2. Not only was it McIlroy’s third victory in as many matches this week at Austin Country Club, he has never trailed and has led in 37 of the 42 holes he has played.
Woods and McIlroy have never faced each other in match play. The last time they squared off was in the final round last year at the Tour Championship, where Woods capped off his comeback season with a victory.
“I just hope I put up a better fight than I did in Atlanta last year,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t have much of a game that day. But yeah, look, it’s exciting. It’s exciting for the tournament. I’m sure it’s going to be exciting for us. I feel good about my game. I played well all year. I’ve continued to do that this week.”
Woods (No. 13) and McIlroy (No. 4) were among only five top seeds to advance from their groups, joining Justin Rose (No. 2), Francesco Molinari (No. 7) and Paul Casey (10).
The World Golf Championships event now heads into single elimination, and it has a distinctive European flavor deep in the heart of Texas. A record eight Europeans have advanced to the Round of 16, breaking by one the most last done in 2013.
That will include Henrik Stenson, who emerged from the group of major champions by beating Jim Furyk.
In Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, likely needing to win to get a Masters spot through the world ranking, Sungjae Im rebounded from an early double bogey to take the second-round lead in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
A day before his 21st birthday, the South Korean player finished with his second straight 5-under 67 for a one-stroke lead.
Joey Garber (Petoskey) was at 2 under and tied for 54th. Brian Stuard (Jackon/Oakland) missed the cut at 1 under.
In Biloxi, Miss., Kevin Sutherland and Marco Dawson each shot 7-under 65 share the first-round lead in the Rapiscan Systems Classic. Tom Gillis (Lake Orions) shot a 1-over 73.