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|Tiger Woods' woes continued as he exited the Match Play Championship after just one day Wednesday.|
“Still, Woods had some company in going home early. The Americans had four of the top 10 seeds at Dove Mountain, and Mickelson is the only one left. Matteo Manassero, the 17-year-old Italian, became the youngest winner in this tournament with a 2-and-1 victory over eighth-seeded Steve Stricker, while Jim Furyk (No. 10) continued his struggles in losing to Ryan Palmer, who was making his Match Play debut. The wild first day finally ended with a record eight matches going into extra holes, and four others going the distance. Of the 32 players remaining, 13 are Americans, 13 are Europeans and two each are from Australia, South Africa and Asia. Coming off the worst season of his career, most of that from the crisis in his personal life, Woods does not appear to be making quick progress. Through three tournaments this year, he has failed to crack the top 20. Woods keeps talking about needing more repetition as he works on a new swing, although he is not playing more tournaments. Asked if he might add the Honda Classic, Woods replied, "Probably now is not the time to ask me right now." He next is likely to play the Cadillac Championship at Doral in two weeks, with Bay Hill two weeks after that. Another possibility is the Transitions Championship outside Tampa, Fla., which is the week between Doral and Bay Hill. It was the second time Bjorn has beaten Woods head-to-head -- although not in this format -- and both times Woods ended with a double bogey. Ten years ago, they played 72 holes together in the Dubai Desert Classic, and Woods hit into the water on the 18th hole. Bjorn was gracious in victory, saying that Woods is not playing "his absolute best right now." although he still saw some good swings. Others piled on. When asked about the youth movement in golf, especially after Manassero won his match, Rory McIlroy said all the young players feel they are good enough to compete with the likes of Woods, Mickelson, Stricker and Furyk.
I blew it.” -- Tiger Woods
“"I mean, I don't think Tiger and Phil have got any ... well, yeah, I mean I don't think Phil has gotten any worse," McIlroy said after his 4-and-2 win over Jonathan Byrd. "Tiger isn't as dominant as he used to be, and Phil won the Masters last year." Then came a tweet from Hank Haney, the swing coach from whom Woods split a year ago in May. "For all the talk of Tiger's poor driving the last 6 years I have never seen him drive it out of play with a match or tournament on the line," Haney said on Twitter. Woods leaves behind a Match Play Championship that remains compelling because of the format alone. The first three matches showed that. Ian Poulter became the first defending champion in nine years to be eliminated in the first round, despite having difficulty remembering any bad shots he hit. All he could recall was Stewart Cink making one big putt after another -- seven of them from the 6-foot range or longer -- to win in 19 holes. Cink never led in the match until a 6-iron into 4 feet on No. 1, the first extra hole. "This is a big win for my confidence because I don't know if there's a tougher player in the field in match play than Ian Poulter," Cink said. "It's a big win for me." Poulter didn't make a single putt over 5 feet. "He didn't miss a putt," Poulter said. "That's what you have to do. I did that last year. I didn't this year and got punished for it." In the second match, former PGA champion Y.E. Yang went 20 holes to beat big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros. And right behind them came the most entertaining match of all when Ernie Els outlasted Jeff Overton in 19 holes. Overton won the first three holes and they halved the fourth with a bogey. Els then ran off five straight holes and appeared to be sailing to a rare, opening-round victory when he let Overton back in the match. Before long, they wound up back on the first tee. Els put his approach into the bunker, while Overton hit his under a bush in the desert and made double bogey. "At least I won," Els said. "I have a 90 percent failure rate in extra holes. It was really ugly out there." All that matters is that Els gets to return on Thursday, something 32 other guys wish they could say -- Woods included.
I mean, I don't think Tiger and Phil have got any ... well, yeah, I mean I don't think Phil has gotten any worse.” -- Rory McIlroy on Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson