Woods to Face Ames In First Round

By Associated PressFebruary 21, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- Stephen Ames had his golf clubs shipped to Tucson, Ariz., last weekend so they would be there when he arrived for his next PGA Tour event.
 
One phone call changed everything.
 
Thomas Bjorn pulled out of the Match Play Championship with a recurring neck injury, and Ames was first in line to replace him in the 64-man field at La Costa Resort. One minute he was on his way to Tucson for a $3 million tournament, the next he was on the practice range getting ready for a $7.5 million World Golf Championship.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods will meet Stephen Ames in the first round of the WGC - Match Play Championship.
That was the good news.
 
As the No. 64 seed, Ames drew Tiger Woods as his opponent in the first round Wednesday.
 
Anything can happen, Ames said, breaking into a smile.
 
Especially where hes hitting the ball.
 
Ames knows better than most that the Match Play Championship is the most unpredictable tournament in golf, especially with the matches lasting only 18 holes'more or less'until the championship round Sunday. A year ago, he made his debut at La Costa Resort as the No. 19 seed and was beaten, 7 and 6, by Mark Hensby.
 
Hes not a big fan of this event, but he wasnt about to miss a chance at the $1.35 million prize.
 
You can get it going and knock out your opponent, or it can go the opposite way, Ames said as he hit balls on the range with only four irons at his disposal. It reflects on who plays well that day.
 
Ames and Woods both had short weeks at Riviera.
 
Woods, the No. 1 seed and a two-time winner of the Accenture Match Play Championship, withdrew from the Nissan Open after making the cut on the number because of the flu. It was the first time in his professional career he left a tournament early because of health reasons.
 
He showed up at La Costa at lunch, hit a few balls and played a practice round.
 
Ames played only one round at Riviera, then had to withdraw Friday morning because his caddie'Robert Ames, his brother'was too sick to work. Ames showed up at 6:30 a.m. that day looking for a caddie, but there was none available that suited his standards.
 
He spent the rest of the week in Santa Monica with his family, and was getting ready to go to Tucson when the PGA Tour called and told him he was in the field at La Costa.
 
Sergio Garcia previously said he would not play at La Costa, citing travel reasons. The world ranking that was published a week ago Monday determined the field, and while Craig Parry at No. 66 was one spot ahead of Ames, the Australian did not commit to the tournament.
 
Vijay Singh is the No. 2 seed and will open against Graeme McDowell. Singh has never advanced beyond the second round in this tournament.
 
Retief Goosen, the No. 3 seed, starts off with Paul Broadhurst of England, who hasnt competed in match play since the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island.
 
Ernie Els made it to the semifinals in 2001 when the Match Play Championship was held in Australia, but he has not gone further than the second round at La Costa. After losing in 19 holes to Phil Tataurangi in 2003, the Big Easy skipped this event the last two years. He is back as the No. 4 seed, and faces Bernhard Langer.
 
Bjorns exit shuffled the first-round matches, although it didnt matter much to Charles Howell III. Instead of facing Els in the first round, he now gets Phil Mickelson, the No. 5 seed.
 
Howell simply was thrilled to see sunshine and green grass at a resort known lately as Lake La Costa because of so much flooding. A year ago, the tournament didnt start until Thursday because of rain that left small lakes in some of the fairways.
 
Its the first time I can leave my canoe in the locker, Howell said.
 
Despite its fickle nature, Howell looks forward to the Accenture Match Play Championship. Instead of beating 143 players, he only has to worry about six, even though he might not make it past the first one.
 
He has been knocked out of the first round the last three years, losing to Nick OHern in 19 holes a year ago.
 
That feeling leaving on Wednesday night is not a good one, Howell said. It feels like you missed the cut.
 
The defending champion is David Toms, who routed Chris DiMarco in the 36-hole match last year, nearly closing him out at the turn before winning, 6 and 5. One of his toughest matches was in the semifinals against Ian Poulter of England, whom Toms will face in the first round Wednesday.
 
Ames, meanwhile, keeps a backup set of clubs in the Nike trailer. His regular set was being shipped from Tucson, expected to arrive at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
 
Related Links:
  • Round One Match Ups
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Match Play Brackets
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.