MARANA, Ariz. (AP) - Tiger Woods produced another incredible
comeback in the desert Wednesday, playing the final five holes in
5-under par to turn what looked like certain defeat into an
unlikely victory in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Woods fell behind J.B. Holmes on the first hole when his tee
shot sailed into the desert and out of play, and he was three holes
down with five to play after taking another penalty shot from the
But he turned it around quickly, winning the next four holes,
capped by a 35-foot eagle putt on the 17th. He escaped with a 1-up
victory on the 18th when Holmes missed an 8-foot birdie putt.
"I just kept telling myself, even when I was 3 down, there's
still a chance to win in regulation," Woods said. "I was just
going to have to start playing a hell of a lot better. Then all of
a sudden, putts started falling in from everywhere."
It started with a 15-foot birdie on the 14th, followed by a
meaningless 18-foot birdie on the 15th, when he only needed two
putts to win the hole. The first overhand fist pump came at the
16th when he made a third straight birdie from just over 20 feet to
square it for the first time since they shook hands on the tee to
start the match.
The loudest roar came on the par-5 17th, which Woods reached in
two with a 3-wood from the rough. He holed his long eagle putt for
his first lead of the match, then held on to avoid what would have
been a shocking departure.
Holmes, whose big drives kept pressure on Woods the entire
match, was helpless at the end.
"I got beat," Holmes said. "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."
None of the top four seeds had an easy time at Dove Mountain.
Ernie Els, the No. 4 seed who changed his mind last week and
decided to enter a tournament that has been so vexing, shot 40 on
his opening nine and was soundly beaten, 6 and 5, by Jonathan Byrd.
It was fourth straight time Els has lost in the first round.
Second-seeded Phil Mickelson, the winner Sunday at Riviera, held
off Pat Perez 1 up. Third-seeded Steve Stricker needed 20 holes to
beat Daniel Chopra, a small measure of revenge. Chopra beat him in
a four-hole playoff at the Mercedes-Benz Championship last month.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)