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Woodland wins ugly over Walker at Harding Park

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SAN FRANCISCO – Gary Woodland and Jimmy Walker halved only four holes and combined for eight bogeys in their 19-hole opening match Wednesday at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play.

Two of the biggest hitters in the game rarely saw each other at Harding Park, because they were often in the trees on the opposite sides of the hole.

“We were all over the map,” Woodland said. “You could probably put a Wal-Mart in between where we drove the ball a few times.”

Hey, it may have been “ugly,” but it sure was entertaining.

No player led by more than one hole.

They combined for eight birdies and an eagle.

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Woodland, hobbled earlier in the match by painful cramps in his foot, holed out from the fairway on 14.

Walker lost his tee shot in a cypress tree on 16.

And then, after forcing overtime with a birdie on 18, Walker missed a must-make 7-footer on the 19th hole after his bunker shot hit the lip of the cup.

“It had to be fun to watch,” Woodland said. “It wasn’t fun the way we were hitting it.”

Yet therein lies the beauty of match play – the score doesn’t matter, only the result. And Woodland is 1-0 in group play.

“This is the match you want to win, the first match, because you don’t want to have to rely on anybody else,” he said. “That’s a huge momentum boost going into (Thursday).”

Match play suits his aggressive style of play, because he can bash away on driver and try to make as many birdies as possible. He didn’t even bother to look at the bracket, which is probably a good thing, because he’s drawn the second-most difficult group: a two-time winner this season (Walker), a U.S. Open champion (Webb Simpson) and a man who loves match play (Ian Poulter).

Not that Woodland is concerned with any of that.

“I just show up and try to beat the guy who’s in front of me,” he said.