Rory McIlroy beats Max Homa, LPGA stars to win The Match 9

golf27 February 2024 04:15| © Reuters
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Rose Zhang, Lexi Thompson, Max Homa and Rory McIlroy © Gallo Images

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy won a closest-to-the-pin tiebreaker to earn $1.6 million at the end of The Match 9 on Monday night in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The ninth edition of the exhibition golf series brought McIlroy, Max Homa and LPGA stars Lexi Thompson and Rose Zhang together for a 12-hole skins match under the lights at The Park golf course.

But after McIlroy won three skins for a combined $800 000 for charity, no player emerged to win any of the final four holes.

At the par-5 12th hole, McIlroy announced that an unidentified friend of his was donating $500 000 to bring the total remaining stakes to $1.6 million. After McIlroy missed an eagle putt and was given the birdie, Homa drained a longer birdie putt to match him.

So the four players returned to the fairway from approximately 100 yards out for a tiebreaker. McIlroy went first and stuck his wedge shot to 4 feet, 2 1/2 inches, and none of his counterparts came close to beating him.


The only other player to win a skin was Thompson at the second hole, when she sank a lengthy eagle putt to net $200 000. Homa and Zhang did not get on the board.

At No 4, players had to select just one club to use for the entire hole. McIlroy used a 5-wood from tee to green – including his putts – to make par and win his first skin.

It was just McIlroy's second time participating in The Match series and his first win. He and Tiger Woods lost to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in The Match 7.

"I just think (I will remember) how much fun it was, being out here with Max and Rose and Lexi and playing at such a great facility," McIlroy said. "All these people out here, the atmosphere, it was a really cool night."

This was the first edition to feature female competitors. Zhang, still just 20 and a student at Stanford, burst onto the national scene last June when she won her LPGA debut at the Mizuho Americas Open.

"Just from being in this kind of environment, it's kind of my first time and definitely outside of my comfort zone," Zhang said. "It just makes me so excited to see what's to come."