Rory McIlroy on different level, crushes The Match competition, sends $2.4M to charity

Of the four players competing in the ninth iteration of The Match, only Rory McIlroy had competed in this exhibition series before.

His experience in this competition was evident, as the four-time major champion looked comfortable against Match rookies Max Homa, Lexi Thompson, and Rose Zhang.

McIlroy dominated the competition, winning three skins, which equated to $800,000. He then took home the final skin through a closest-to-the-pin contest, netting another $1.1 million for charity.

But before he knocked it within five feet of the hole to close out The Match, McIlroy made a generous announcement on the 12th tee—the final hole. He told TNT’s audience that a friend would donate an additional $500,000 to the event. That ultimately increased McIlroy’s winnings to $2.4 million, which will go to the First Tee organization.

Rory McIlroy, Capital One’s The Match IX

Rory McIlroy, the winner of The Match IX, stands alongside Max Homa, Rose Zhang, Lexi Thompson, and two children ambassadors.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The day began with a halve on the par-5 1st hole. That meant the skin money from the opening hole carried over to the drivable par-4 second, where fireworks quickly sparked the competition.

Thompson hit her drive just off the green and faced a 35-foot eagle putt from the fringe. She then holed it, thus winning the hole and the first two skins of the match. It netted her $200,000, but unfortunately, that was the final hole she or anyone not named McIlroy would win.

Two holes later, at the par-4 4th, The Match featured a “One Club Challenge.”

Each player had to pick an exclusive club—meaning no player could use the same one—and they could only use that one club for the entire duration of the hole.

McIlroy selected a 5-wood, while Homa went with a 7-wood. Thompson opted for a 4-iron, Zhang a 4-hybrid.

Somehow, McIlroy salvaged a par, while the others looked like double-digit handicappers. That awarded the Northern Irishman two skins, as the par-3 third hole was halved.

At the par-3 5th, McIlroy hit it the closest to the pin, which netted an additional $100,000, but everyone made par, so the skin carried over to the 6th.

Rory McIlroy, PGA Tour, Capital One’s The Match IX

Rory McIlroy hits a tee shot during The Match IX.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

McIlroy easily won that hole, and suddenly, he had $500,000 in the bank.

After another halve at the 7th, McIlroy made a mundane, two-putt par at the 8th.

But the others around him collapsed on the greens, with Homa faltering the most. The former California Golden Bear three-putted from 15 feet, which included a miss from about three feet. McIlroy made Homa putt it, and that strategy netted McIlroy another two skins worth $300,000.

By the time the group arrived at the 9th tee, McIlroy had $800,000 while Thompson had $200,000. Homa and Zhang had nothing.

And yet, the group squared the final three holes, meaning that it all came down to the par-5 12th, where anyone could have won.

Like the 9th, 10th, and 11th, nobody emerged victorious at the 12th, thus leaving the $1.6 million skin up for grabs.

The foursome then went back to the 12th fairway for a closest-to-the-pin competition from 100 yards out, and McIlroy put the pressure on by going first and sticking it to four feet.

Nobody came close to that, meaning McIlroy won The Match for the first time in his career.

He last competed in this exhibition event in December 2022, when he and Tiger Woods lost 3 & 2 to Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth at Pelican Golf Club.

Alas, this iteration of The Match was perhaps the best yet. It featured extraordinary banter between each player and provided a platform for two of the biggest stars in the women’s game. We need more of this in the years to come, and hopefully, Capital One and Turner Sports—who help produce The Match—recognize this need and bring golf fans more mixed events in the future.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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