|Four Top-10 Still Alive|
|by Martin Olivera|
Day 2 at La Costa got started under better weather conditions
than at the end of yesterday's matches. The suspended matches
from the previous day
ended with Montgomerie and Bjorn advancing to the second round
and playing each other into the longest match in the two-year
history of this tournament. Bjorn prevailed over Montgomerie
after 23 holes, when he made par and the Scotsman bogeyed.
Five of the 16 matches featured and American player versus a European player in a sort of "mini Ryder Cup". The Europeans prevailed 3-2. Mark Calcavecchia drew first blood by beating Jose Maria Olazabal 4&3. "Today I really felt I was going to win before I actually started", said Calcavecchia. "You've got to drive it good out here, and Jose has been struggling a little bit with that part of the game", he added. "The turning point was #6", said Olazabal. "I had a 3-foot putt to win the hole (and cut his lead to 1-up), but missed it".
Paul Lawrie took care of Billy Mayfair 3&2. "I didn't give him any chances", said Lawrie. "He needed birdies to win the holes", he added. "The Ryder Cup has been very close for a long time now, so it doesn't surprise me how well the Europeans have done in the last couple of days", he concluded.
Scott Hoch edged 7th seeded Lee Westwood 1-up. "I feel fortunate. I hit a lot of good shots and just wasn't as sharp as yesterday", said Hoch. But his game was sharp enough to advance him to the third round against Jesper Parnevik, who beat Joe Ozaki in 19 holes.
Miguel Angel Jimenez scored an upset by comfortably beating Tom Lehman 4&3. "I feel more confident now", said Jimenez. "I spent almost three month without competing". Probably Lehman didn't notice it.
Darren Clarke also had a comfortable day, disposing of Mark O'Meara 5&4. "I had only missed two greens and was 5-under-par when the match was over", said Clarke. "(I made) no bogeys and that's always good in match play", he added. He'll bring his strong game against Thomas Bjorn tomorrow.
Tiger Woods had to struggle to beat Retief Goosen, who put up a good fight that went to the last hole. Goosen three-putted #18 to lose a match in which had a 1-up the lead after four holes (Woods bogeyed #2 and #4). But Tiger was able to regain control of the match with a birdie on #5, and when Goosen three-putted #7 for a bogey. The lead was extended to 2-up with a birdie on the par-5 #9 (driver-driver-flop shot to 15 feet). Goosen came back with a winning par on #13 and a birdie on #16. With the match even, both players hit accurate approaches to #17 and birdied. "I got a nice little gift on #18", said Woods. "Retief played very patient golf, very solid", added Tiger. "I was kind of erratic at times but hung in there".
The third round features another "mini Ryder Cup", with four matches, out of eight, in which American players will be facing their European counterparts. Given the tough conditions of the course, it's no wonder the European players have performed so well. Seven matches today reached the 18th hole (two of them went beyond 18), but none of those ten players broke 70, which was the lowest score by both, Woods and Goosen. The most one-sided match was Garcia's win against Canadian Mike Weir. Garcia shot a 5-under 31 through nine holes, which included a birdie on #2, and four straight birdies starting on #6. His excellent play contrasted with Weir's poor performance. He only managed to half #4 and #5 on the front nine. This match had the widest margin of victory in the two years this tournament has been played.
The most difficult hole so far has been the 421-yard par-4 #18 (4.368). And the relatively short 365-yard #6 is making the case that a hole does not need to be long to be difficult. With a small green and into the wind, #6 is ranking 4th in difficulty (4.198) so far.