Tiger wins easy at Match Play

Tiger Woods had an easy time advancing in the Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday.

updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Marana, Arizona:

Tiger Woods had an easy time advancing in the Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday. And with Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and other top seeds no longer around, his road to an eighth straight US PGA Tour victory started looking easier, too. Woods was 5-up through six holes and never serious challenged by Tim Clark, the South African recovering from a neck injury and playing his first tournament of the year. The result was a 5-and-4 victory, the shortest match of the second round. Mickelson believed his match would be all square going to the par-3 16th tee after Justin Rose, who was 1-up, hit into the desert brush and had to chip out backward to the fairway, hitting this third shot 30 feet short of the flag. Rose's par putt dropped on the last turn, however, keeping the lead and momentum on his side. Mickelson felt he had no choice to go after what he called a "carnival" pin on the 16th, and it went a 3 yards too far and off a shelf, leading to bogey. Rose closed him out with a birdie on the 17th to win, 3 and 1. It was the first time in five years that Mickelson failed to advance to the third round. Chad Campbell pulled off a valiant rally against Furyk, making an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to go overtime, then two-putting from 50 feet for birdie to win in 19 holes. No top challenger left That left Woods, the No 1 seed, as the only player among the top eight seeds still around. But all he had to was look at his third-round match on Friday to realise how far he has to go. Next up is Nick O'Hern, a short but straight-hitting Australian who beat Woods two years ago at La Costa. "I'm sure he will obviously take positive vibes from what he did the last time we played," Woods said. "But the whole idea is you've got to play well." Woods had no trouble with that on a warm, sunny afternoon in the high desert. He won the first two holes with a two-putt birdie and a bogey by Clark at No 2, then poured it on with three straight birdie putts. When he drove to the front of the 12th green for his seventh birdie of the round, and Clark missed a 4-footer, Woods was 6-up and counting the holes until it was over. Still around are two past champions - David Toms and Geoff Ogilvy - and Paul Casey, who won the World Match Play Championship in England five months ago. Woods is among five players who have yet to trail over two days at The Gallery. The others are O'Hern, Toms, Ian Poulter and Stephen Ames, who staved off a birdie-birdie finish by Vijay Singh and beat the Fijian in 19 holes. Shaun Micheel, who ended Woods' worldwide winning streak at five last September in the first round of the World Match Play, followed his win over third-seeded Adam Scott by birdieing his last two holes to steal a 1-up victory in the second round over Rod Pampling.