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WGC Match Play: Rory McIlroy pulls tee shot into swimming pool in heavy defeat to Ian Poulter

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Rory McIlroy’s tee shot at the par-four fifth ended up in a nearby swimming pool during his 6&5 mauling by Ian Poulter at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play – Watch live throughout the week on Sky Sports Golf

Rory McIlroy sprayed his tee shot out of bounds and into a nearby swimming pool during the opening day of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play!

Rory McIlroy’s much-publicised swing struggles were highlighted during a nightmare start to his week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, suffering a heavy defeat to Ian Poulter.

The four-time major champion has difficulties with his swing since developing flaws during “speed training” sessions last autumn, with McIlroy linking up with renowned coach Pete Cowen ahead of this week’s event to try and rectify the issues.

McIlroy faced Poulter in the opening group match of the round-robin format at Austin Country Club, and the Englishman cruised to a 6&5 victory in which his Ryder Cup team-mate looked woefully out-of-sorts from the start and contributed heavily to his own downfall.

McIlroy won the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in 2015 McIlroy won the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in 2015

After losing the opening hole and three-putting the fourth green to fall two behind, things went from bad to worse for McIlroy at the fifth when he pulled his tee shot way left of the fairway and out of bounds, with his ball finishing at the bottom of a swimming pool at the back of the garden in a nearby house!

McIlroy had to reload off the tee and eventually found the green with his fourth shot, but Poulter made a tap-in par to win the hole and move three ahead after just five holes before McIlroy lifted his spirits with birdies at the sixth and eighth reducing the deficit to one.

Poulter birdied the ninth to double his advantage at the turn, and McIlroy’s directional control became even more ragged as he lost the next four holes – two of them to Poulter pars – and surrendered to a lacklustre defeat on the 13th.

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Hole-by-hole highlights from Ian Poulter’s convincing victory over Rory McIlroy at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

“I played well, but the scoreline is pretty flattering to be honest with you,” said Poulter, the champion of 2010 when the event was a straight knockout and played in Arizona. “I kept Rory under pressure and I made it difficult for him. He hit a couple of loose shots, but putting the ball in pretty tight and taking control of a match, I had to do that against Rory.

“My mental approach was really simple; try to get up in the match and not to give Rory momentum. Because if he does, he’s going to take it with both hands. He kind of got himself really back in the match real quickly, you know, two holes in three.

“It’s sometimes difficult, but to hit good shots at the right time and put him under pressure when you’re going into these holes first was the right thing to do. So I had a stretch around the turn where kind of I kept the foot down and I made it difficult and Rory had to be aggressive at that point, took a couple shots on and obviously I came out on top.”

Watch McIlroy hit his ball into a swimming pool!

Watch the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play throughout the week live on Sky Sports Golf!

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