Ian Poulter has handed Rory McIlroy his worst loss in 10 years at the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Poulter won the opening match at Austin Country Club, 6 and 5. The last time McIlroy walked off the course this early was when Ben Crane beat him, 8 and 7, in the second round in 2011 when the event was in Arizona.
McIlroy’s round took an embarrassing twist when his on the par-4 5th hole was missed right and ended up in a neighbor’s swimming pool.
Poulter was clinging to a 1-up lead going to the ninth hole at Austin Country Club when he hit a 7-iron to 8 feet for birdie. McIlroy threw away the next hole with a bad pitch, and Poulter poured it on with a tee shot into 15 feet for birdie at the 11th and a 4-iron to 8 feet for eagle on the 12th.
The match ended on the reachable 13th when McIlroy drove over the green and then chipped back across the green and into the water.
McIlroy began working with noted English coach Pete Cowen, though he still hasn’t said to what degree. And Wednesday was not the day for such revelations. He declined to speak to the media.