New challenge awaits Rory


A new challenge faces Rory McIlroy.

The 34-year-old Northern Irish golf star will meet two of world golf’s leading female players next month in Florida.

McIlroy says the experienced Lexi Thompson and exciting newcomer Rose Zhang face off on February 26 at The Park Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

The American Max Homa is also part of the four players who will battle it out in a skins-exhibition match over 12 holes under floodlights.

The showdown is for charity and has been adapted for the TV golf series The Match.

This will be the 18th showdown in the The Matchseries and McIlroy’s second time playing in it. He played with Tiger Woods against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in 2022.

Zhang says she is burning to play and it is a privilege to exhibit her talents together with McIlroy, Homa and Thompson.

Four of the 12 holes will be par threes with all four players teeing off from the same tee.

On the other eight holes, however, the men and women will tee off from different fairways.

The four players can win a certain amount of money on each hole, should they beat the other three players. If there is no winner on a relevant hole, the winnings are transferred to the next hole.

There will be a play-off at the end of the 12 holes if there is money that has not yet been won. The format of the playoff and the amount of money that can be won on the holes has yet to be determined.

McIlroy is currently on a blistering run and scored his 38th career victory in Dubai on Sunday.

He boasts four Major titles and is just short of the US Masters crown to complete the Grand Slam of Major wins.

The 33-year-old Homa is one of the most popular players in the American PGA series and delighted his South African followers at Sun City at the end of last year with his victory in the Nedbank Challenge tournament.

Thompson is 28 years old, but has been playing on the biggest stage since her teenage years and hits the ball as far as the average male player.

She has 15 LPGA titles to her name, one of which is a Major title.

The 20-year-old Zhang joined the money ranks last year after dominating amateur golf for years. She won the Americas title in her debut as a professional player and it is a given that she will become one of the game’s greats in the future.

A fight of a thousand certainly awaits golf lovers when four of the top stars among the men and women face each other for the first time.

Only a fool would dare to make a prediction about who will be boss on that day.

  • Additional information: Sports Illustrated