|It'll Be an All American-European Saturday|
|by Martin Olivera|
Tiger Woods brought back his top game today and won his match
against Shigeki Maruyama 4&3. Woods was 5-under for the day and had
made no bogeys when the match ended on the 15th green where Maruyama
made bogey. "Well, today I played beautifully. I hit a lot of good
shots and made some key putts", said Woods. "Today was very important
because of the fact that I didn't play well yesterday and was somehow
able to win the match". After his round yesterday Woods went back to
the range to iron out kinks. "We worked on my hip turn, my shoulder
turn, my right knee flex and my right foot on the way down", said
Woods. Those were the same kinks he worked on in Los Angeles last
week. "Any player that plays this game is always going to have the
same faults. They seem to repeat them over and over again. And those
(faults) are the ones I usually face". Woods went 1-up in the match when
Maruyama bogeyed #3, but the Japanese player was able to even the match
with a birdie on the tough par-4 #5. However, Woods put the pressure back
on #6 with a birdie of his own. "With an emotional player, or a player who
plays in streaks, you have to pounce on them on the next hole (after
they make birdie)", said Woods. "From then on, I hit a lot of good
shots". Match-play startegy was part of #6. With Maruyama in the
right rough off the tee, Woods laid up with a 3-wood to be able to
hit his second shot before Maruyama hit his. "I'd been hitting driver
off the tee all week (on #6), but I hit 3-wood so I could hit first
and be more agressive and put the ball on the green on the top shelf",
said Tiger. "And let him look at it from the rough. He might be careless
and be agressive." As it turned out, his 8-iron second shot ended up on
the top shelf, and he made the 15-foot putt. Maruyama missed his putt
from the fringe and Woods never looked back. He birdied #9 to go 2-up, then
both players traded birdies on the par-5 #12. But Woods increased his
lead to 3-up with a birdie on #13, an closed out the match with a par on #15,
when Maruyama bogeyed.
David Duval played solid golf and came up on top on a close match with Spaniard Sergio Garcia. Both players traded punches early in the match. Garcia hit his second shot in the water on the par-5 #2 and made bogey. But then responded with two consecutive birdies on #4 and #5, holing putts from 25 and 35 feet, respectively. Duval punched back with birdies on #6 (putt from 10 feet), and #7 (putt from 12 feet) to keep on top of the match at 1-up. (After him making two birdies in a row) "For him to be back down was important to me", said Duval. Both players played #9 poorly, Duval made bogey and the match was all-square going into the back nine. "I gave him a gift on #9. But he returned it on #11" (Garcia 3-putted). After Duval birdied the par-5 #12, Garcia came back with a birdie on #14 to keep the match close. But Duval closed out the match on #17, when he converted for birdie from three feet after Garcia had missed his birdie attempt from seven feet.
Davis Love III beat fellow Ryder-Cup player Jim Furyk 3&2. Furyk birdied the first two holes, but with an eagle by Love on #2 and then a birdie on #3, Love went 1-up. He then birdied #6 and #7 and Furyk was only able to counterpunch with a birdie on #8. "We both got off to a good start, making birdies. And I made an eagle", said Love. "Jim missed a few putts and that kept me ahead". Love stretched his lead to 3-up with a birdie on #12, only to have Furyk punch back with a birdie on #13. But Furyk bogeyed the par-3 #14 and after consecutive pars by both players, Love ended up on top. "I'm playing pretty well and I'm pretty happy with it and looking forward to tomorrow", concluded Love.
There were four matches today with American players facing European players in what it could be thought of as another "mini Ryder Cup". This time the matches were split: David Duval and Scott Hoch were the American winners, and Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul Lawrie were the Europeans that remained in the tournament. Paul Lawrie needed 21 holes to beat Mark Calcavecchia. Both players had a chance to win the match on #18, but both bogeyed after missing short putts. Miguel Angel Jimenez beat Bob Estes 2&1. The match was even through 11 holes, but Jimenez managed to birdie #15, #16 and #17 after bogeying #14, thus putting the match away. Scott Hoch took care of Jesper Parnevik 2&1. Hoch never trailed and after being all-square through 11 holes, Hoch birdied #11 and #12 and kept that lead through #17, both players making pars along the way.
Darren Clarke edged fellow European Thomas Bjorn 1-up. Both players played good golf, scoring 69 and 68 respectively. Bjorn was able to go 1-up with a birdie on #9, thus turning the match around from 2-down through four holes. But Clarke birdied #10 and then #12 to make a comeback of his own. Bjorn tried to get it back with a birdie on #13, but he then bogeyed #14 and #16 to go 2-down again. His birdie on #17 was not enough to shake Clarke, who parred #18 to win the match, in spite of scoring higher than Bjorn for the round. A match-play thing.
In the other All-American match, Hal Sutton prevailed over Duffy Waldorf 2&1. Sutton never trailed and was 1-up through ten holes. He moved to 2-up with a birdie on the par-3 #11, and then to 3-up when Waldorf double-bogeyed #13. Duffy's birdie on #16 shortened the lead to 2-up, but both players parred the long par-5 #17 and that was the end of it.
Saturday morning features a re-match of the 1999 Ryder Cup battle between Hal Sutton and Darren Clarke. Sutton won that match at Brookline, Massachussetts, 4&2, so Clarke will have extra motivation to try to win this time.
Of the eight players moving on to the quarterfinals, five are Americans and three are Europeans. The only match featuring players from the same continent is Duval vs Hoch. The other three matches, again, may be thought of as another "mini Ryder Cup". There will be some continental pride on the line tomorrow morning, which will set the stage for the semifinals in the afternoon.