TIger anything but mediocre in winning match play title
Those few critics remaining who insist Tiger Woods is not much more than a mediocre professional golfer took it on the chin again last weekend as the World’s No. 1 player added another trophy in his crowded case that now numbers 63 Pro Tour victories by winning the Accenture Match Play Championship last weekend.
Tiger put the frosting on the cake at the expense of his good friend Stewart Cink by firing 14 birdies on the 29 holes, beating Cink handily 8-and-7, which means Woods was eight holes ahead of Cink with seven holes remaining to win the title after playing 29 of the 36-hole match.
The victory over Cink was Tiger’s 23rd in his last 26 matches during the 10-year event on the Arizona desert near Tucson and was the largest margin of victory in the tournament’s 10-year history.
It also marked the second time in his career that he has won at least four straight tournaments—the only other golfer to win four consecutive tournaments twice was Texan Byron Nelson in 1945-46.
But it was by no means an easy chore for Tiger. The five-day event involved six different opponents that he had to dispose of before earning the gorgeous Wedgwood Walter Hagen Cup.
His first-round opponent was long-hitting B.J Holmes, who took the lead on the first hole when Tiger belted the ball into the desert and expanded the lead to three holes with only five holes remaining.
“I just kept telling myself even when I was three down, there’s still a chance to win in regulation,” Tiger revealed. “I was just going to have to start playing a lot better. Then, all of a sudden, putts started falling in from everywhere.”
Woods played the final five holes in 5-under, turning what looked like a certain defeat into a 1-up victory. He capped the rally with a 35-foot eagle putt on No. 17.
“I got beat,” an impressed Holmes stated after the match. “Playing the best player in the world, 3-up with five to play, I just said ‘Don’t do anything stupid. Make him beat you.’ And he did.”
Tiger barely broke a sweat Thursday against Arron Oberhoiser in the second round and beat him 3-and-2 on the 16th hole.
But that wasn’t the case Friday against Aaron Baddeley, who played Tiger stroke-for-stroke and had a chance to win on the 18th hole by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt, but barely missed.
Baddeley had another golden opportunity to eliminate Tiger on the 19th hole with a 12-foot eagle putt, but it burned the edge of the cup and rolled away, keeping the match all-square.
Tiger’s had the chance to win the match with a 13-foot birdie putt on the 20th hole and in true Tiger form, hit the heart of the hole to advance to the quarterfinals. “I just figured I had to make birdie to win the hole,” and elated Tiger said after the match. “If I didn’t, I was going to lose the hole. It was just that simple.”
A dejected Baddeley commented after the grueling match, “I played great, you know?’ I made him have to win it.”
Tiger’s early match Saturday against South Korean K. J. Choi was a tight one until Woods chipped in an eagle and then went on to win 3-and-2 and advance to the semifinals against Henrik Stenson, the last man to defeat Tiger in this tournament.
Stenson had never lost a match in the three years he’s been playing and was a defending two-time champion. The match stayed tied most of the time until Stenson rolled in a birdie on the 16th hole to square the match. Not to be outdone, Tiger nailed a 12-foot birdie on the next hole and went on and defeated the Swede 2-up.
This set up Sunday’s 36-hole championship match against Cink, who played so well all week that he only extended his match to 18 holes once. However Cink is 0-for-85 on the PGA Tour since his last victory, while Woods is 22-for-56 in that same time.
Cink never could get a leg up over Tiger during the championship match and was asked afterward how it felt to stand on the first tee when you know Tiger is better than you and you know Tiger knows he is better than you? “Stay in our own little world and believe in yourself,” was Cink’s reply.
Tiger captured his 15th World Golf Championship, holding all three titles for the first time. His 63rd victory moved him ahead of Arnold Palmer into fourth place on the PGA Tour’s career list and one win short of Ben Hogan.
Woods has won six of his last seven PGA Tour events and 16 of his last 30 over the last two years. “I think this is the best stretch I’ve ever played,” Tiger said. He earned $1.35 million Sunday, giving him over $19.8 million in these elite events, which is roughly 25 percent of Woods career PGA Tour earnings.
KWICKIES…Congrats to the Lamar men’s basketball team for its current 10-game winning streak. The Cards had to work hard to finally get past Northwestern, La. 103-95 Saturday night at the Montagne Center . The huge crowd of 8,338 helped the Big Red tie their fourth-longest winning streak in school history since 1983-84 and the fifth longest currently in the nation. The Cardinals have also won 12 straight at home.
Former Texas running back Ramonce Taylor, who scored 15 touchdowns in the Longhorns’ 2005 national championship season, is serving five months in jail for violating probation. Taylor had several probation violations in recent months, including positive drug tests. Taylor ’s college career came to an end in May, 2006 when he was arrested and later pleaded guilty to having marijuana in his vehicle.
Former Port Arthur and University of Texas running back Jamaal Charles has a chance to record the fastest time in NFL combine history this week for the 40-yard dash. The record is debatable. Some say Auburn ’s Bo Jackson holds the record with a 4.12 clocking in 1986. Others say it was Deion Sanders who ran 4.15 in 1989. However, 1999 was the first year the more accurate electronic timing was used and Kentucky wide receiver Rondel Melandez has an official 4.24 in 1999.
JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros will have plenty of new faces on the 2008 roster, but will they be a much better team than the 2007 Astros? The team said good-bye to 47.6 per cent of their 2007 at-bats, which leads the National League and 62 per cent of their bullpen innings, also tops the NL. The Astros got rid of 47.6 percent of their at-bats but those players only contributed 37 percent of the offensive win shares. The team parted ways with 36.4 percent of their innings pitched, but only 32.7 percent of the pitching win shares moved on.