Tiger Steamrolls Lefty Smoked


CARLSBAD, Calif. -- He steams into the fourth round, gaining momentum every day that goes by. Tiger Woods slipped into overdrive Friday, dusting off Australias Stephen Leaney, 7 and 6, at the World Golf Championships-Match Play Championship.
Next up is Scott Hoch, who is 47 years old, 20 years Tigers senior. Woods is obviously favored to steamroll into the semifinals Saturday afternoon, but there are some signs that Hoch may not be as easy as it would seem.
Hoch has made just three bogeys in three rounds, all three-putts. He has been very sharp tee-to-green. Woods has made just one bogey, that coming Friday, also a three-putt.
There will be no dream final of Woods versus Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson was a casualty Friday, going to the sidelines with a 3-and-2 loss to Jerry Kelly.
Kelly will face David Toms, who overcame a bout of food poisoning to defeat Germany's Alex Cejka. Toms was hospitalized early Friday morning, but recovered enough to birdie the last hole and win 1-up. No player ever led by more than one hole in the match.
Defending champion Kevin Sutherland, who had set a tournament record with eight straight victories, finally lost to youngster Adam Scott, 2 and 1.
Scott, 22, will face 49-year-old Jay Haas in the quarterfinals. Hass edged out 46-year-old Nick Price in 20 holes. Haas closed the match by nearly acing the 220-yard, par-3 second.
Australian Peter Lonard and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke will also square off Saturday morning. Lonard beat countryman Robert Allenby, while Clarke won the final two holes to beat Jim Furyk, 2-up.
Clarke won the 2000 event by topping Woods in the 36-hole final. But Woods says he's a very different player from back then.
Yeah, he said simply. Yeah, definitely.
The formula for victory was simple for Woods on Friday: get off to a quick lead, make a couple of great shots, and keep up the pressure. Leaney lost the first hole by snap-hooking his tee shot. Woods won the second with a birdie, and captured the third with an eagle.
By the seventh hole, Woods was already 6-up. He had two hole-outs on the day and breezed around on a perfect day at La Costa.
He just got off to a bad start, said Woods of Leaney. He had a pull-hook off the tee at the first. The second hole, I dont know, it looked like he had a shot to get to the green. He hit the tree coming out and it hit the water. The next hole, he hit a pretty good shot, and it happened to hit on the fringe and skipped over the back.
And he never seemed to get going, never seemed to get the momentum going. When that happens, youve got to keep the pressure on him.
When you are Leaney and ranked No. 48th in the tournament, you just dont have enough moxie to overcome such a miserable start.
I never really had a chance and he showed why he is the best in the world, said the 34-year-old Australian. He just doesnt make mistakes. I knew that was the key, I knew he wasnt going to make mistakes and I guess that puts pressure on you from the start.
Woods spent nine weeks away from the game over the New Years, rehabilitating from arthroscopic knee surgery. He returned three weeks ago with a win at the Buick Invitational and played well at the Nissan Open last week, firing a 65 the last day. It appears that he is steadily rounding into form in this, his third week.
I took a huge layoff and it took me a little while to get back to the rhythm, but I feel like Im back now. Im back in the rhythm of playing. I have a better sense of where the clubs at.
Now comes Hoch, and Woods admits he is a little leery of his older opponent.
Scotts a wonderful match-play player, said Tiger. Theres no doubt about that. He drives it very straight. Hes also one of the best iron players we have out here on tour. From tee to green, its going to be a tough match.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the Accenture Match Play Championship