Tiger Rolling Along Lefty Leaving

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods had an easy time advancing Thursday in the Accenture Match Play Championship. And with Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and the other top seeds no longer around, his road to an eighth straight PGA Tour victory started looking easier, too.
 
Woods was 5-up through six holes and never serious challenged by Tim Clark, the South African recovering from a neck injury and playing his first tournament of the year. The result was a 5-and-4 victory, the shortest match of the second round.
 
Mickelson's up-and-down West Coast Swing came to a stunning end with an incredible up-and-down by Justin Rose.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson was ousted by Justin Rose in the second round. (WireImages)
Lefty figured the match would be all square going to the par-3 16th tee after Rose, who was 1-up, hit into the desert brush and had to chip out backward to the fairway, hitting this third shot 30 feet short of the flag.
 
Rose's par putt dropped on the last turn, however, keeping the lead and momentum on his side. Mickelson felt he had no choice to go after what he called a 'carnival' pin on the 16th, and it went a 3 yards too far and off a shelf, leading to bogey.
 
Rose closed him out with a birdie on the 17th to win, 3 and 1.
 
'It looked like all I had to do was make par and the match would be even,' Mickelson said. 'That hurt the most.'
 
Chad Campbell pulled off a valiant rally against Furyk, making an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to go overtime, then two-putting from 50 feet for birdie to win in 19 holes.
 
That left Woods, the No. 1 seed, as the only player among the top eight seeds still around.
 
But all he had to was look at his third-round match Friday to realize how far he has to go. Next up is Nick O'Hern, a short but straight-hitting Australian who beat Woods two years ago at La Costa.
 
'I'm sure he will obviously take positive vibes from what he did the last time we played,' Woods said. 'But the whole idea is you've got to play well.'
 
Woods had no trouble with that on a warm, sunny afternoon in the high desert north of Tucson.
 
He won the first two holes with a two-putt birdie and a bogey by Clark at No. 2, then poured it with three straight birdie putts. When he drove to the front of the 12th green for his seventh birdie of the round, and Clark missed a 4-footer, Woods was 6-up and counting the holes until it was over.
 
'I played well today. I put a lot of pressure on Timmy,' Woods said. 'He's still a little bit hurt. But I just wanted to put as much pressure as I possibly could on him and not give him any holes with bogeys. I did that today. I made a few putts, and Tim made a couple mistakes. And basically, I ended up having a pretty good-sized lead early in the match.'
 
Woods is among five players who have yet to trail over two days at The Gallery. The others are O'Hern, David Toms, Ian Poulter and Stephen Ames, who staved off a birdie-birdie finish by Vijay Singh and beat the Fijian in 19 holes.
 
The highest seed still alive is Shaun Micheel, who thrives in match play whether it's in dreary ol' England or sunny Arizona.
 
Micheel ended Woods' worldwide winning streak at five last September by beating him handily in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth. After beating third-seeded Adam Scott in 21 holes on Wednesday, Micheel birdied his last two holes to steal a 1-up victory in the second round over Rod Pampling.
 
Still around in Woods' half of the draw are Henrik Stenson, who beat Woods in Dubai three weeks ago; and Trevor Immelman, who won the Western Open, the last PGA Tour event Woods played without going home with the trophy.
 
Mickelson ends his first part of the season with a mixed bag of results -- a five-shot victory at Pebble Beach, a playoff loss to Charles Howell III at Riviera after leading by two shots on the back nine, and an early exit from Match Play. It was the first time in five years that Mickelson failed to advance to the third round.
 
Mickelson and Rose halved only three of the first 12 holes -- all those with birdies -- and Mickelson was looking late in the back nine for an opening to square the match and let his experience take over. He figured he had it when Rose drove into the desert on the 15th and hit his third shot before Mickelson hit wedge for his second.
 
Then came Rose's putt, and Mickelson felt like a batter who froze on a 3-2 curve that broke over the plate.
 
'I wanted to tee off first on the 16th and hit it the middle of the green,' Mickelson said. 'He hit the green, and I had to be aggressive. It was a carnival pin, and I hit it 3 1/2 to 4 yards too far.'
 
The ball trickled down a swale, and Lefty faced a delicate chip up the slope, with the green then running swiftly toward a false front. His chip caught the hole, trickled to the slope and Mickelson stood their staring, hoping that the ball would stop. It didn't, rolling off the green, and his par putt also caught the lip.
 
Rose found a greenside bunker on the par-5 17th, blasted out to 4 feet and never had to putt. Mickelson went through the green, but his chip checked and he missed a 10-footer for birdie, removing his visor when the ball slid by on the right.
 
Why not play it safe on the 16th and take his chances?
 
'The 17th was a hole we both would probably birdie,' Mickelson said. 'And I didn't want to leave it up to 18.'
 
Instead he was leaving, with Furyk, Retief Goosen, and Singh fast behind.
 
That doesn't mean Woods has to the show to himself. Still around are two past champions -- David Toms and Geoff Ogilvy -- and Paul Casey, who won at Wentworth five months ago.
 
Related Links
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Match Play Brackets
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
     
    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.