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Rory McIlroy closes match with epic drive inside 4 feet on 375-yard 18th

AUSTIN, Texas – It will be his walk-off drive at the 18th hole to close out his match against Denny McCarthy – a towering downwind shot that traveled 375 yards and settled 4 feet from the pin for a conceded eagle – that will churn the headlines, but for Rory McIlroy, Thursday was filled with plenty of drives to feed his confidence.

There was the 308-yard effort at the par-4 13th hole that landed pin high, and the 356-yard shot at the 15th hole to set up a tap-in birdie, and the cart-path assisted 420-yard blast at the par-5 12th hole that left just a “three-quarter wedge” second shot from 154 yards.

Matches and scoring from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship

“I drove the ball great those last few holes and hit it really well. Yeah, it was great to see. Similar to yesterday too. I felt like I drove the ball really well yesterday,” said McIlroy, who is 2-0-0 this week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

But his drive at the 18th hole, which bounded onto the front of the green and pitched perfectly to the hole, that was the highlight of the round.

“It’s almost one of those that when it’s that much downwind, I could have hit 3-wood to hit the downslope and get the scoot, I was imagining the driver was going to land into upslope and stay 10, 20 yards short. But I didn’t imagine I could fly it on there,” McIlroy said.

His driving this week is particularly encouraging after he struggled off the tee at The Players Championship and switched to a shorter shaft for the Match Play.

“I feel like I took [the new driver] out of the box on Friday last week and the first two shots with it I was like, here we go,” McIlroy said. “That’s what it should be. When you’re trying to fit clubs and stuff I don’t think there should be too much fiddling about with it. It was like first two shots out of the box and it was like, yeah, I think I’ve got one here.”