|Maggert knocks out Woods, Gets To The Semis|
|by Martin Olivera|
The third round at the World Match Play Championship picked up where
it left off yesterday. More upsets everywhere. They played two rounds
in one day today, as the winners in the morning first round were
scheduled to play the quarterfinals in the afternoon. But some of
the top-ranked players didn't make it to the afternoon. They got
to go home after lunch.
Tiger Woods took care of Stewart Cink in the morning 2&1, but was upset by Jeff Maggert in the afternoon by the same score. Maggert in turn had beaten Bernhard Langer in the morning 1-up. Eduardo Romero of Argentina continued his onslaught of top-ranked players by defeating local favorite Phil Mickelson 2&1 in the morning. But the 43-year-old "Gato" could not keep up his steady play and wasted a few opportunities in his loss to Steve Pate, a former winner here at La Costa, 3&2 in the afternoon match. Pate had beaten Fred Couples 1-up in the morning.
The other end of the draw had the only other two international players remaining in the field. Maruyama lost to Magee 1-up, and Jose Maria Olazabal lost to John Huston 2&1, both in the afternoon. The semifinals tomorrow will be played by four American players. Maggert, seeded #24, the highest seed left in the field, will play Steve Pate (#61). On the other side, Andrew Magee, (#50), will face John Huston (#27).
Romero put pressure on Mickelson early in match. He birdied the first two holes to quickly go 2-up, but Mickelson took one back with a birdie on the 4th, and then gave it back with a bogey on the 6th. The match could have gone 3-up if a slippery 5-foot putt from Romero hadn't done a "360" failing to fall in. That seemed to give Mickelson some confidence because he birdied the 9th and 10th to square the match. In the latter, Romero had a chance to halve the hole from 6 feet, after the young Sandiegan had sunk his from 18 feet, but his effort touched the edge of the hole and did not fall in. Romero responded with a chip-in birdie from 15 feet on the 11th, and and up-and-down birdie from the right bunker on 12th to go 2-up again. "I think the (chip-in) birdie I made on the 11th hole changed the momentum back my way", said Romero. When Romero bogeyed the 14th after missing a 10-foot par putt the match went to 2-up, and remained that way until both players parred the 17th hole, where Romero closed the match.
"I knew I had to play good golf this afteroon to beat Tiger, and I probably played my best round this afteroon", said Jeff Maggert. After trailing through the first 11 holes, Maggert birdied the 10th hole to square the match and then the 12th to go 1-up. Woods was not able to strike back, and Maggert went 2-up with a birdie on 16th. Both players bogeyed 16th and Maggert closed the match when both made par on 17th. "I've been putting pretty well the last month or so", said Maggert. "That's the key to match play. You've got to make the putts to win the hole or save the hole". That's all it took for Maggert, the right putt at the right time.
Four Americans are left in the semifinals. It'll be a shootout for the million.