Scrappy Little Grinder

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2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' How do you beat Tiger Woods?
 
Simple. Get him one-on-one in a match play event, act like hes your long lost cousin Cletus and don blinders and ear muffs on the first tee. Add to that a mind-numbing shortgame and, perhaps, you too could be like Tim Clark and defeat Woods 4-and-2.
 
This is all in jest, but there is something to Clarks strategy.
 
I think a lot of guys playing with Tiger probably try too hard or think about the fact that theyre playing with him, and its really just a case of realizing that its another round of golf, Clark said. All you can do is hit your shots and move on and not get too caught up in what hes doing. Today I felt like I did that pretty well.
 
Uh, yeah. Id say so.
 
Woods' kryptonite in this format ' if there is such a thing ' is scrappy little grinders who arent afraid to think they can win.
 
Check out some of Woods notable victories here over the past several years:
 
  • Brendan Jones in the first round here this year was happy to be here. The result: a 3-and-2 loss.
     
  • Stewart Cink in the championship match here last year was happy to be there. The result: an 8-and-7 smashing.
     
  • Stephen Ames got lippy before the first round of his 2006 matchup and found himself on the business end of a 9-and-8 throttling.
     
  • Davis Love III in the 2004 championship match had rabbit ears and had a heckler escorted off the property. The result: a 3-and-2 defeat.
     
    Now, look at some of his defeats:
     
  • A 20-hole loss to Nick OHern in the third round of 2007. OHern didnt let the atmosphere get to him, put blinders on and gutted out the victory. Essentially hes a taller, left-handed version of Clark.
     
  • Another loss to OHern in the second round of 2005. See previous item.
     
  • A 2-and-1 first-round loss to Peter OMalley in 2002. Like OHern, another fearless Aussie that relished the opportunity, didnt let the elements bother him and found a way to slay Goliath.
     
    Which brings us back to Clark, a South African who, like OHern and OMalley, has never won a PGA Tour event. Although he wouldnt admit it, the 5-and-4 whooping at the hands of Woods here two years ago was probably the best thing that could have happened to Clark in preparation for his Thursday match.
     
    Then, he had just come off a three-month layoff and wasnt expecting much. Then, he ran into Woods in the second round and was overwhelmed and not prepared to handle the situation.
     
    What a difference two years makes.
     
    When Clark took a 1-up lead on the sixth hole it was the first time Woods had trailed in this event in the past 82 holes. Woods wasnt rattled, but Clark wasnt going away either.
     
    As much as Woods brings to the game, its refreshing to see the underdog step to the plate every now and again. When Clark made three consecutive birdies on Nos. 11-13 the gallery didnt know how to react. Perhaps they were as stunned as everyone else not named Clark. Its the beauty of match play, it is the great equalizer.
     
    Still, as satisfied as Clark was he didnt want to get too big for his britches. He didnt want to go Stephen Ames-style and say something that he may regret.
     
    When asked if he believed Woods was firing on all cylinders during their match, Clark grinned and said: I would hate to comment on that. I dont want to get him angry for the next time I play him, so Im going to leave that one alone.
     
    Smart move. He didnt need to say anything. After all, Clark has just found a way to beat Tiger Woods.
     

    Related Links:
  • Match Play Scoring
  • Full Coverage ' Tiger's Return
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship