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Match Play: Watney Eliminates Woods

24 Feb 2012

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Tiger Woods

AP

The roar resonated across Dove Mountain from fans packed around the 18th green as Tiger Woods, needing a birdie on the last hole to stay in his match, hit a shot that dropped out of the Arizona sky and landed 5 feet from the hole.

That was followed by silence.

Woods missed the putt so badly that it never even touched the hole, reports The Associated Press.

No one was more surprised than Nick Watney, who removed his cap to shake hands with Woods after a 1-up victory Thursday in the Match Play Championship. It was the third straight time in this fickle event that Woods failed to get out of the second round, and it raised more questions about his ability to make key putts that once seemed so automatic.

''I was fighting the blocks all day with my putter,'' said Woods, who missed three putts inside 10 feet on the last six holes. ''Left-to-right putt, I took it slightly shut right there, and I knew it - and blocked it open.''

Watney was so sure that Woods would square the match that he already had his yardage book out, checking the hole location on the first green (the 19th hole of their match), trying to decide if 3-wood was the right club off the tee.

''The old adage is to expect your opponent to make it,'' Watney said. ''And when it's Tiger Woods, you really expect him to make it.''

Just not this Tiger Woods.

''I didn't miss a single shot coming in, which is good. And that was fun, to hit the ball that well,'' Woods said. ''Unfortunately, I just didn't make a putt when I needed it.''

Two weeks ago, Woods couldn't buy a putt at Pebble Beach and closed with a 75, which was 11 shots worse than playing partner and eventual winner Phil Mickelson. He also struggled to make putts in Abu Dhabi, when he failed to win despite being tied for the 54-hole lead with Robert Rock.

And now the Match Play Championship, where he lost his only lead by missing a 5-foot par putt on the seventh hole, and made only one putt longer than 5 feet all day.

''I'm very happy to move on. I feel a bit fortunate, as well,'' Watney said. ''We don't see him miss putts like that very often. And there were a few of them.''

Watney next plays Lee Westwood, the former world No. 1 whom Watney has beaten at Dove Mountain each of the last two years. Westwood had no trouble against Robert Karlsson of Sweden, advancing to the third round for the first time in 12 tries at this fickle event.

''Need more clothes. Didn't pack for long enough!'' Westwood jokingly tweeted.

England has won this World Golf Championship the last two years - Luke Donald and Ian Poulter - and Westwood is its last hope to make it three in a row.

Tags: Sports, World, Watney, Woods

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