Thursday Thumpings Abound

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CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Tiger Woods lives yet another day. Thats not news to the golfing public, who expect him to win the WCG'Accenture Match Play Championships with ease. To Woods, though, winning ' and losing ' in match-play circumstances against players of this caliber is as common as picking up a putter.
 
He plays in the third round Friday against Australian Stephen Leaney after sending K.J. Choi packing Thursday. Tiger won by a tally of 5 and 3, and for the second straight day, he didnt make a bogey. He had three birdies Wednesday and two against Choi, and hasnt had a single smear on his scorecard in the tourney.
 
Tiger's triumph was just one of several Thursday thumpings. Darren Clarke started the day by trouncing Davis Love III, 7 and 6. Jim Furyk defeated Steve Lowery, 6 and 5. Leaney won the first four holes and eased to a 6-and-5 win over Justin Leonard.
 
Phil Tataurangi, who shocked Ernie Els in the opening round, fell victim to Peter Lonard in round two, 5 and 4.
 
Phil Mickelson was in a battle until he pulled away late. He was all square with Brad Faxon through 11 holes, before winning Nos. 12-14 en route to winning the match, 3 and 2.
 
He could face Woods in the final. But first, he'll have to get past Jerry Kelly, who beat Mike Weir, 2 and 1, in round three.
 
'That's a hurdle for me,' Mickelson said. 'I want to focus on that match and see if I can get past that.'
 
David Toms was struggling against Chris Riley until he holed a 90-foot chip for birdie on the 18th hole with a 3-wood to win 1-up.
 
Defending champion Kevin Sutherland is still alive. He bettered Justin Rose, 1-up.

Thursday was an awful day if you are playing golf, OK if you are a SCUBA diver. Woods was obliged to play golf, unfortunately, and he made the most of it.
 

It was windy, and all of a sudden became rainy, he said. The rain was hit-and-miss, which was even worse, because you had to take off your gear, put it back on, take it off, put it back on. It was just a day of patience out there.
 
Downpours continually raked the course off the nearby Pacific until noon, lining up to strafe the coast like so many F-18s. But because it was match play instead of stroke play, play continued unabated, officials concerned only that the conditions were the same for both players.
 
It also made for some bizarre shots. Woods remembers hitting one 8-iron from just 120 yards, a couple of 5-irons from 150. Those are distances that mortals hit them, but not a bazooka like Woods.
 
Woods, though, has been on the target this week. I hit two 5-irons back-to-back on 3 and 4, he said, and that got me going. I didnt mis-hit a shot from there on in. I may have put it in the wrong spot, but I hit them flush.
 
Tiger had two birdies and no bogeys in Thursdays match, which ended on the 15th hole. Pins have been, for the most part, unreachable, and it is quite possible to spin the ball back off the green trying to get to them. Woods has been a picture of concentration the past two days as he tried to take all spin off the ball. Its not a shot that many of the pros have. Its not a shot that Woods had his first year or two on tour.
 
I didnt have that shot, not for the swing plane I had, said Tiger. Playing my swing, there was no way you could have played that shot.
 
The reason ' the clubface isn't closed through impact. He changed his swing, he says, to change the angle that the face goes through the hitting area.
 
Thats one of the reasons why I evolved my swing plane to where it is now ' to hit different shots and be more consistent. To be able to keep the blade open longer through impact has definitely given me more variety of shots, especially in these conditions, he said.
 
So he lives to fight another day, another opponent awaits. Others are supremely confident for him, but Woods is counting for today only, just praying he avoids bogeys for one more match. And he knows that just avoiding bogeys wont necessarily get him another match win.
 
You dont know, thats the thing, he said with a sigh. You dont know. And I think thats the beauty of match play ' you just flip a coin.
 
You can still get in a boat race, someone can shoot 7- or 8-under, and not make a bogey, and someone can shoot 3- or 4-under, and youre packing your bags.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the Accenture Match Play Championship