OHernOh Well

By Brian HewittFebruary 23, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. -- So Tiger Woods, the focal point of every tournament he enters, has lost in the third round at the WGC-Accenture Match Play to little-known Aussie named Nick O'Hern, the same player who stopped him in this event two years ago.
The streak that Tiger didn't really think was a streak is over now. Woods had won seven straight PGA TOUR events. Now he can focus on a streak that's more important to him: Winning his third straight major - at Augusta in April.
It was extremely interesting to note, after two rounds, the credentials of the other 15 players, besides Woods, that remained alive in the draw.
Henrik Stenson, the last man to beat Woods in a medal play event, earlier this year at Dubai, had stopped Zach Johnson and K.J. Choi.
Nick OHern, the last man to beat Woods prior to the third round in this event, had gotten past Lucas Glover and Rory Sabbatini.
Charles Howell III, who had a more recent winning streak than Woods by virtue of his win at the Nissan Open last week, had won both of his matches (Stuart Appleby, Sergio Garcia) before they reached the 16th hole.
Trevor Immelman, the last man to win a PGA TOUR event in which Woods was entered (last July at the Cialis Western Open) had dusted Thomas Bjorn and beaten Chris DiMarco.
Chad Campbell, the last man to beat Woods in this event, 1-up in the third round last year, had gotten past Angel Cabrera and upset Jim Furyk.
Shaun Micheel, the last player to beat Woods in an individual match play event (last year at the HSBC Match Play) had stunned Adam Scott and eliminated Rod Pampling.
Paul Casey, the last player to win an individual match play event in which Woods was entered (the same HSBC Match Play) had gotten by Mike Weir and Colin Montgomerie.
And finally Geoff Ogilvy, the last player to win a major championship (the 2006 U.S. Open) in which Woods was entered, had cruised past Steve Stricker and come from behind to beat Jose Maria Olazabal.
Almost everybody left in the field, it seemed, had a reason to believe that Woods had reason to believe that he had a score to settle.
And everybody knew how long Woods memory was. Asked before the tournament began to recount his earliest match play memories, Woods said, Yeah, I played in the Southern California Junior Match Play. We played at El Dorado and I lost in the quarterfinals. It as something that I didnt understand because I won, I think, two or three matches and got to the quarters. I shot 69 that day; got to the 18th hole and lost.
I didnt quite understand that. I just came home and told Dad, I dont understand. I shot a better score than he did, but he won the match. That doesnt seem right. He explained it to me. That was the first time I had ever experienced anything like that before. So we went out the next couple of days and played match play.
Woods said he thought he was 13 at the time and the name of the player who beat him, he thought, was James Mohan.
Somewhere, James Mohan is shivering.
Tiger learned. He won three straight U.S. Juniors in match play followed by three straight U.S. Amateurs in match play. He also won this event in 2003 and 2004. My, how he learned.
The whole idea is to put as much pressure as you can on your opponent right from the first tee until its over. Keep hitting a bunch of fairways, keep hitting the ball on the green, giving yourself chances and forcing your opponent to make a mistake. Thats the hard part. Thats also the fun part as well.
Against O'Hern, Woods never led.
Meanwhile the only fun last years champion, Ogilvy, was having in 2006 at this event was after the last hole. His first four matches went 19, 21, 21 and 19 holes, respectively. It was his first appearance in the WGC-Accenture Match Play and it was exhausting. In his third round victory over Mike Weir he was four down with four to play.
Psychologically, Ogilvy was just happy to be in the semi-finals. And it showed. Tom Lehman posed no problem in the semi-finals where Ogilvy won 4 and 3 and Davis Love III succumbed in finals 3 and 2.
The physical part wasnt so bad, Ogilvy said. We play all the time. But from a stress standpoint, he added, it was like three golf tournaments in one week.
And strategies are all over the map. Immelman insisted he played the guy, his opponent in match play. Stenson said, I think I try to play the course as well as I can and see where that takes you.
To the winner will go the spoils'$1.35 million and pile of FedExCup and world ranking points'and a well-earned rest.
I definitely had to take it easy for a few weeks, Ogilvy said of last year. I didnt play the week after. If I had, I would have been no good. The way I did it. And I drove home, too, from La Costa to Scottsdale, and that was a six-hour drive in the car, so it was lots of sleep the next few days.
Good sleep.
Ogilvy, Immelman, O'Hern, Campbell, Stenson, Justin Rose, Stephen Ames and Casey all advanced Friday.
As for Woods, right about know? You can be certain he's thinking more about the Masters than he is thinking about Nick O'Hern.
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