Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III during their match in which Howell won Thursday. (Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
ACCENTURE: Recaps of all first-round matches
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods played well in his opening match at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. But Charles Howell III played better.
As a result, Howell -- the 63rd overall seed in this event -- pulled off the upset of the No. 2 overall seed Woods, winning 2 and 1 in the looming darkness in Thursday's first round at Dove Mountain.
Howell advances to play the winner of the match between Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Francesco Molinari, which is all square through 15 holes and will be completed Friday.
"As far as beating Tiger Woods goes, it shows you that match play is crazy," Howell said. "I did have to play a good round but ... yeah, it's a bit hard to believe sitting here today with this."
Woods, meanwhile, leaves after a first-round loss for the second time in his last three starts. In 13 career starts in this event, Woods has failed to get out of the first round just three times, equal to the number of times he's won the title.
He played solid on Thursday, bogey free with two birdies. But Howell was also bogey-free and made four birdies. Their match was the only bogey-free match of the first round.
"It's the nature of the format," Woods said. "You've just got to beat the guy you're playing against, and I didn't do that today. Chucky won the match."
"I knew I had to play my best to have a chance out there," said Howell, who lost a match to Woods in the 1996 U.S. Amateur. "He's Tiger Woods and I was just happy to hang in there."
Woods was not happy with the outcome but was happy with the way he played. Given a chance to halt the match after 16 holes due to darkness -- both players were asked if they wanted to continue -- Woods opted to keep playing because he felt he could birdie the last two holes.
"I played well, I really did," Woods said. "I hit a lot of good shots out there."
Howell never trailed. He birdied the par-4 fifth to go 1 up, but Woods squared the match at the par-4 fifth when he rolled in a putt just inside 20 feet.
But Howell regained the lead at the par-5 eighth hole with a birdie putt of 27 feet.
Woods squared the match again at the par-5 13th with a putt from 7-1/2 feet. But Howell took the 15th and 16th holes with birdies to go 2 up. His approach at the 15th landed inside of a foot, and then he drained a birdie putt from inside 24 feet at the par-3 16th.
Howell hit 15 of 17 greens and nine of 13 fairways, while Woods hit 14 greens and 12 fairways.