Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tiger burning bright (well, almost) but

Harrington, Garcio take early KO count

Tiger Woods overcame a front nine wobble to win his opening match at the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain, Arizona in his much anticipated comeback from an eight month injury lay-off.
Woods, up against Australian Brendan Jones at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, was playing for the first time since last June when he won the US Open Championship before needing reconstructive knee surgery.
“I felt good,” Woods said. “I got off to a quick start and that helps. I got off some good shots early, had some loose irons there in the middle part of the round but got back and thought I had a good day, except for those couple of loose irons.”
Woods, the defending champion, said he had felt no adverse reaction from his rehabilitated left knee.
“It felt good,” he said. “I felt for sure it would be a little bit more stiff than it was.
“I’m sure it will be a little bit stiff later but ice and elevate and I’ll be good to go.”
The World Number One had started in determined fashion and to a huge roar from the packed stands around the first tee, winning the opening hole with a birdie.
He was quickly two up after Jones conceded the second but both players bogeyed the third and fifth and Woods bogeyed the par four seventh as well.
He was quickly back in control though, going two up with a birdie at the eighth and forging further ahead when Jones overshot the green at the par three 12th.
Woods then eagled the par five 13th to put him within sight of victory and eventually closed out a 3 and 2 win on the 16th.
Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy kept his hopes of facing Woods in the third round alive after he defeated South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen 2 and 1.
“Actually I found it quite difficult because he's a good friend of mine and it's always hard to play someone you know quite a lot about,” McIlroy said.
“We both didn't play as well as we could, but I was able to just make my pars when I needed to and got the job done.”
McIlory now faces US Ryder Cup star Hunter Mahan in the second round and said he would resist all thoughts of a potential match with Woods.
“That's a long way off for the minute,” the 19 year old said. “But we'll see what happens.”
The Open Championship and US PGA Championship winner Padraig Harrington lost 1 down to American Pat Perez, despite winning the par three 16th with a birdie.
Oliver Wilson set up a second round meeting with Ryder Cup foe Anthony Kim with an upset victory on a good day for the European Tour contingent where 20 Members progressed to the last 32, including ten of the 20 Europeans.
Wilson, one of 20 Europeans and a record 47 European Tour Members in the field, beat Korea’s KJ Choi 3 and 1.
Kim was the first player into the next round with a resounding 7 and 5 victory over Lin Wen-Tang, needing just his second birdie of the round to complete the job as the Taiwanese golfer posted seven bogeys over 13 holes.
Starting the good day for Europe was Lee Westwood, who moved into the second round with a 2 and 1 win over Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng.
Westwood now meets last year’s beaten finalist Stewart Cink, who needed 19 holes to defeat Richard Sterne of South Africa.
Phil Mickelson survived a late rally from Angel Cabrera to win at the 19th and set up a meeting with Zach Johnson, who defeated Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell 3 and 1, while Luke Donald won on the 19th against Ben Curtis.
“Touch wood, everything feels good and it’s great to be out,” admitted Donald - who missed the second half of 2008 with a wrist injury. “I have had a solid start to the season and I expect a lot of good things over the coming weeks hopefully.”
Paul Casey was another Englishman through to the second round after beating Aaron Baddeley by one hole to progress to a match with another Australian, Matt Goggin, who beat Kenny Perry.
The biggest surprise of the day saw The Race to Dubai leader and World Number Two Sergio Garcia go out to South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, The European Tour Member holing from four feet to win 1 up at the 18th.
Sweden’s Peter Hanson was another giant killer as he beat compatriot Robert Karlsson, last year's European Tour Number One, while Justin Rose lost to Ryder Cup rival Boo Weekley on the 18th.
Ian Poulter was able to cruise to a 4 and 3 win against Jeev Milka Singh with compatriot Ross Fisher also winning, 1 up against Robert Allenby. Allenby`s compatriot Stuart Appleby was defeated by another European Tour Member, Germany's Martin Kaymer.
Poulter was delighted to get his campaign off to a good start.
“In match play you have to get off to a decent start and put your opponent under as much pressure as you can and try and finish the game off as soon as you can,” he said. “I got off to a quick start to be three up after four and I kept my foot on the accelerator and hitting good golf shots. If you do that then you should be able to finish your opponent off.”
Camilo Villegas defeated Rod Pampling 7 and 6 and will face Miguel Angel Jiménez, who overcame South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini.
Davis Love III secured victory over Sweden`s Henrik Stenson at the 21st hole, while Ernie Els - seven times a World Match Play Championship winner at Wentworth - defeated Dane Søren Hansen 4 and 2.
“I had a nice start, let him back a bit but then had those birdies on the back nine. My game feels good so glad to get through,” said the South African.
Australian Geoff Ogilvy saw off Kevin Sutherland at the 19th to progress to a second round meeting with Shingo Katayama, who won 3 and 2 against Trevor Immelman.


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