Tiger a victim of match-play format

February, 24, 2006
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Match play is a crazy animal.

On Wednesday, poor Stephen Ames shot a 3-over 39 on the front nine at La Costa that included six pars and three bogeys. Certainly not a stretch to write home about, but were this a stroke-play tournament he'd have plenty of time left to get his game in gear and make a run at the title. After all, players have won major championships after being 3-over through the front nine.

Instead, Ames trailed Tiger Woods, 9-down, at the turn and was put out of his misery on the 10th hole.

Need further proof of the fickle nature of this format? How about this statistic: On Friday, only one player in the 16-man third-round field failed to make a bogey. His name? Tiger Woods. And yes, he lost his match to Chad Campbell.

If you tally the numbers, Woods and Campbell shot equal rounds of 3-under 69 for the day; Woods made 16 pars, one birdie and one eagle, while Campbell had 11 pars, five birdies and two bogeys.

"The thing [about match play] is you can actually play decent golf and still get beat if the other guy plays phenomenal," said Tom Lehman, who beat David Toms, 4 and 3, on Friday. "So the only answer is that you've got to play better."

Call it tough luck for Woods, who by all accounts would be leading this event by a few strokes (at 11-under overall) had this been a medal-play competition.

Of course, let's not take anything away from Campbell, who went toe-to-toe with a guy who had a 23-4 all-time record in this event (including two wins) and came out on top.

"I'm definitely proud of myself for grinding it out and playing so well under the pressure against the No. 1 player in the world," Campbell said. "He definitely didn't give me any holes."

Crazy match. Crazy result.

And so typical of match play.

Jason Sobel | email

ESPN Senior Writer



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?