Top­ping Holmes in first round of Match Play

The Covington News - - Sports -

“You’re play­ing the best player in the world, 3 up with five to play,” Holmes said. “I just said, ‘Don’t do any­thing stupid. Make him beat you.’ And he did. What do you do?”

The only thing left was to re­move his cap and shake hands with the world’s No. 1 player, and on Wed­nes­day, a sur­vivor.

Woods ex­haled, more re­lieved than thrilled to still be play­ing.

“I wish I was play­ing bet­ter,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously, I need to go do some work and get ev­ery­thing straight­ened out.”

None of the top seeds had an easy time at Dove Moun­tain.

Phil Mick­el­son, fresh off his vic­tory at Riviera, birdied his first two holes against Pat Perez and ap­peared to have ev­ery­thing in hand un­til Perez holed birdie putts from 50 feet on the 14th and 40 feet on the 15th to square the match. Mick­el­son re­sponded with a 35-foot birdie on the next hole, and won with a 4-foot par on the last.

Steve Stricker, the No. 3 seed, held his breath when Daniel Cho­pra’s 30-foot birdie to win on the 18th tick­led the edge of the cup, just like so many putts at the Mercedes-Benz Cham­pi­onship last month when Cho­pra beat him in a play­off.

This end­ing was dif­fer­ent, for it was Stricker who holed from 8 feet for birdie on the 20th hole to ad­vance.

The only top seed to had a short day was Ernie Els, which was not a good thing. Els only last week de­cided to come to Ari­zona for a tour­na­ment has haunted him, in­stead of a hol­i­day on the beach in South Africa.

But he piled up five bo­geys on the first nine holes to fall six be­hind, and when he made an ea­gle on the 10th to win his first and only hole, he looked at Jonathan Byrd and said, “Does this count for two (holes)?”

Byrd wound up win­ning, 6 and 5.

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