BELEK, Turkey — Organisers of the $5.2m World Golf Final face an anxious time after the world's leading two golfers, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, were beaten in Tuesday's opening round at the Turkish resort of Belek.
World No.1 McIlroy played his closing five holes on the Sultan Course in a horror seven-over par for an eventual round of a five-over par 75 to lose to American rival Matt Kuchar who shot a one-under par 70.
It was both McIlroy and Kuchar's first competitive round of golf since last month's Ryder Cup.
McIlroy had WTA world No.10 ranked girlfriend Caroline Wozinacki walking the course with him but it failed to lift the 23-year-old Northern Irishman.
McIlroy had gone ahead at the first with a par but after Kuchar birdied the second that was the closest the double major champion got to the current world No.15.
Kuchar made the turn two shots ahead and while McIlroy was one-under par from the 10th to the 14th holes he finished triple bogey, double bogey, double bogey and par.
"I hit a drive into the trees on 15 and lost a bit of confidence," said McIlroy.
"I need to win both of my matches tomorrow if I am to advance. I just struggled for a bit of motivation out there so I need to go out and concentrate on both of my matches tomorrow."
Kuchar earns a point for his victory and now faces Woods in Wednesday morning's second round and Schwartzel in the afternoon.
Woods began his campaign for the $US 1.5m first prize cheque with a birdie at the first but found himself two strokes behind fellow Masters winner Schwartzel when Woods triple bogeyed after finding water off the tee and then three-putting.
Their match was all-square coming down the last but Woods then sent his second shot into a back greenside bunker from where the 14-time Major winner took bogey to lose by a shot with a round of 70 to Schwartzel's 69.
"It came right down to the wire but I can't believe how far that second shot flew into the back bunker and that was the match," he said.
"It means now that I have to play 'Kooch' (Matt Kuchar) and try and win that match before facing Rory in the afternoon but my main concern in 'Kooch' and try and beat him."