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Match Play won't keep McIlroy from Mayweather-Pacquiao fight

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Rory McIlroy is the top seed in this week’s Match Play Championship in San Francisco. If he’s still playing when the quarterfinals roll around on Saturday, he plans to hop a private plane to Las Vegas for the big Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao prizefight.David Cannon/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy is the top seed in this week’s Match Play Championship in San Francisco. If he’s still playing when the quarterfinals roll around on Saturday, he plans to hop a private plane to Las Vegas for the big Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao prizefight.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The most pressure Rory McIlroy faces all week could be the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship.

And it would have nothing to do with his opponent.

The quarterfinal matches — if the world’s No. 1 player advances that far — are expected to end as late as 7:30 p.m. PDT on Saturday. That would be an hour or less before Manny Pacquiao fights Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas.

McIlroy already has tickets to the fight.

So what happens if McIlroy is still playing?

“Nothing that a few quick birdies won’t change if I try and win 7 and 6,” McIlroy said. “If the fight starts at maybe 10 o’clock like they usually do, then it should be OK.”

Except the fight is supposed to start somewhere between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. It’s possible McIlroy got the time zone mixed up, like he did at the 2012 Ryder Cup. But he made one thing clear Tuesday — he didn’t want to miss it.

WBC/WBA welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

WBC/WBA welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Enlarge WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao.

Enlarge

Rory McIlroy has seen both Floyd Mayweather (l.) and Manny Pacquiao fight in the past, and isn’t about to let the opportunity to see them in the ring together slip away.

“I went to Pacquiao in ‘09, and then I think Mayweather fought later on that year, and then they were supposed to fight the next year and it never happened. So (I’ve) been waiting five years for this to happen,” McIlroy said. “I always said if these two guys fought each other, I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to go. Luckily, we’re somewhere close where I can get in line.

“Hopefully, I’m still a part of this tournament at that time, but it just wasn’t an opportunity that I was going to miss.”

The flight to Las Vegas is short and he would be flying private. The hard part might be getting out of Harding Park, which is on the south side of San Francisco and about a 20-minute drive to the airport.

Masters champion Jordan Spieth was a little more coy on his fight plans.

“If things don’t go perfectly this week, I may see him at the fight. Who knows?” Spieth said. “I don’t plan on being there. But I may be there.”

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