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February 24 2012

4:20 PM

McIlroy has No. 1 at stake

MARANA, Ariz. -- Once Luke Donald was upset in the first round of his title defense at the Accenture Match Play Championship the way was cleared for two players to potentially replace him as the world No. 1.

Either second-ranked Rory McIlroy or Lee Westwood, who ranks third in the world, can unseat Donald -- but to do so, they would have to win the Walter Hagen trophy on Sunday. The prospect is not lost on the two pros, particularly McIlroy, who has never been top-ranked.

"Everyone keeps telling me, so it's hard to put it out of my mind,” the 22-year-old acknowledged. "It's a little bit of extra motivation this week knowing that if I can get through four more matches, I could go to the top of the World Rankings which is obviously a huge moment for my career."

McIlroy has beaten George Coetzee and Anders Hansen in the first two rounds. He plays Miguel Angel Jimenez in the third at 2:02 p.m. ET -- and would meet Westwood in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon if both continue winning. But McIlroy is taking it one step at a time.

"I set myself a goal this week just to try and make the weekend for a start," the Northern Irishman said. "And then see what we can do from there. I have still got one match to go until I get to the weekend and hopefully I'm able to get through that tomorrow."

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