Woods advances at match-play championship
Tiger Woods needed 20 holes to subdue Australian Aaron Baddeley on Friday and reach the quarterfinals of the $8-million WGC Accenture Match-Play Championship.
It was the second hard-fought win in three days for Woods, who avoided a first-round upset on Wednesday by firing four straight birdies to hold off JB Holmes.
Two days later, Woods was tested again by Baddeley, who teed off at number 16 up by one and missed two potential match-winning putts over the final three holes.
“It was unbelievable how many birdies we made out there today,” said Woods, who had 12 birdies to Baddeley’s 10. “It was just quality shot after quality shot.”
Woods, seeded number one in the Jones division and a two-time winner of this World Golf Championships event, was perfect off the tee at the par-three 16th and squared the match when Baddeley conceded the hole.
After both players birdied the par-five 17th, Baddeley had a chance to finish off the upset at the par-four 18th, but his right-to-left attempt from about 14 feet was short of the hole.
Woods, meanwhile, drained an uphill par putt to extend the match.
“I hit a good putt,” Baddeley said. “I read it to go straight and hit it exactly where I wanted, and it broke left the last two feet.”
Baddeley missed another chance on the first extra hole, where he rolled his 15-foot birdie attempt left of the cup.
Woods finally pounced, sinking a 20-foot birdie putt to win it at the 20th hole.
In Saturday’s quarterfinals, the world number one will face South Korean KJ Choi, a two-up winner over Englishman Paul Casey.
“I felt in control of the match until I lost 14 and went one-down,” Woods said.
“All of a sudden, I had to find a way to at least get that control back.”
Defending champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden, extended to 25 holes on Thursday, also advanced with a one-up victory over Jonathan Byrd. Stenson next plays Woody Austin, who beat fellow American Boo Weekley three and two.
American Stewart Cink ended the run of Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie with a four and two victory. Cink will face United States Open champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who beat Steve Stricker four and three.
Fiji’s Vijay Singh captured the last quarterfinal berth, defeating Australian Rod Pampling in a 25-hole marathon. Singh will play Justin Leonard, a three and two winner over another Australian, Stuart Appleby.—Sapa-AFP