Topping Holmes in first round of Match Play
“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.