Woods to Face Love in Match Play Final

By Sports NetworkFebruary 28, 2004, 5:00 pm
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Tiger Woods, the defending champion and No. 1 seed in the Bobby Jones bracket, defeated Stephen Leaney, the eight seed in the Ben Hogan bracket, 2 and 1, in one of Saturday's semifinal matches at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Woods will face Davis Love III, the No. 1 seed from the Sam Snead bracket. Love needed 21 holes to beat 2000 Match Play champion Darren Clarke, the three seed from the Gary Player bracket, 1-up in the other semifinal.
The Love/Clarke match needed extra holes when Love reached the green in two at La Costa Spa & Resort's difficult, par-5 closing hole. He lagged his 30-foot eagle try to concession range and Clarke missed a 10-foot birdie putt that erased a 2-up lead with two to play.
The par-4 10th was the first playoff hole and Love seemed to have an advantage because Clarke drove into the left rough and could only advance his ball a few yards. Love hit his second on the fringe 15 feet from the hole, while Clarke knocked his third to five feet. Love's birdie try came up a foot short and Clarke ran home his amazing par save to extend the match.
The par-4 15th was the second extra hole and Love looked to be in command once again. He had close to 20 feet for birdie, while Clarke had 35 feet. Clarke ran his birdie putt almost three feet past the hole and Love narrowly missed his birdie try. Love was conceded his par and then gave Clarke his par putt that the newly thin European could have easily missed.
'These greens are bumpy,' said Love. 'We didn't want to putt the two-foot putts just because we didn't want it to end that way.'
At the par-3 16th, Love hit a 7-iron to 10 feet. Clarke pulled his 40 feet left of the hole and his birdie putt flew left of the hole.
Love's birdie putt fell into the middle of the cup and that put the 1997 PGA Champion in the final. But the 39-year-old might be pretty tired when he gets there.
'We felt like we lost shots,' said Love, who is making his first appearance in the final match. 'We're wearing down. Mentally, we're frazzled and physically, we're frazzled. Darren's a great guy and it was a fun match.'
Woods and Love will be the first two No. 1 seeds to meet in the final since the event went to four brackets. The final on Sunday will be 36 holes with a consolation match between Clarke and Leaney for third place.
The quarterfinals and semifinals were both played on Saturday. Since Thursday's action was washed out, both the second and third rounds were played on Friday and that means for the duo in the final, it will be 36 holes for three consecutive days.
'You just need to hang in there,' said Woods, who is the only player to own all four World Golf Championships titles. 'The rough is approaching eight or 10 inches. You have to keep your patience and make sure you get your par and at least make him work for it.'
Woods squandered a 2-up advantage on the back nine starting at the par-three 12th. Woods went over the green with his tee ball then duffed a chip that did not even reach the fringe. Leaney lagged a birdie try close and was conceded par. When Woods missed his chip for par, the lead was down to 1-up.
Leaney, who defeated No. 1 seed Mike Weir in the second round, drained a 25- footer for birdie at the 14th to square the match with four holes remaining.
The two halved the par-4 15th but Leaney landed in a greenside bunker right of the hole at the par-3 16th. Woods knocked his tee ball 12 feet short of the stick. Leaney hit a great shot out of the trap and Woods conceded the par to his opponent. It would not matter as Woods sank his birdie try to go 1-up with three holes to play.
'He played a wonderful little bunker shot there without much green to work with,' said Woods, referring to Leaney's shot at 16. 'To bury that putt and take the lead just gave me that little bit of a cushion on the last couple of holes.'
Both Woods and Leaney found the fairway off the tee at 17, but Leaney hit his approach into a left bunker. Woods played his second to six feet and the pressure was on Leaney to try and make his bunker shot. Leaney's blast rolled 20 feet past the hole and he missed the par putt coming back and was given his bogey putt.
Woods needed two putts to win the match, but canned his birdie try to move on to the finals for the third time.
Woods did not play wonderfully early in his match with Leaney. He had three 1-up leads until a two-putt birdie at the long, par-5 11th hole. Woods may have never established a large margin, but he never trailed throughout the match.
The Love/Clarke match changed leads several times, including twice on the back nine. Love took a 2-up advantage with a birdie at No. 11, but Clarke cut into the lead with a par win at 12 and squared the match with a six-foot birdie at the 14th.
Clarke snuck a 10-foot birdie putt into the right side of the cup for birdie and the win at the 15th. Love's par putt at the 16th hit the left edge of the cup and rolled out, giving Clarke a 2-up lead with two to play.
At the 17th, Clarke hit the cart path twice on the right side, then missed the green short. Love drove into the left rough but knocked his approach to 30 feet. Clarke chipped 12 feet past the hole and Love lagged his to tap-in range. Clarke's par save never touched the hole so Love won and was only 1- down.
Then it was 18 and Love's tremendous 3-wood, which helped him win the hole and eventually got him into the final.
Related Links:
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