By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
MARANA, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods did not make a bogey but is headed home following a 2 and 1 defeat to Charles Howell III at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday.
Woods did not make enough putts to advance. He had two birdies but missed his line several times on makeable putts. Woods hit it to 10 feet, 8 inches at the 10th and missed. He lipped a putt out at the 11th from 7 feet, 5 inches. Woods left Dove Mountain ranked 38th in strokes gained-putting.
There was nothing wrong with his ball-striking. Woods hit 12 of 13 fairways but could not take advantage of the par 5s. Howell made a 22-foot birdie at the second hole plus a 27-footer on the eighth. After missing a short birdie putt at the 14th hole, Howell responded with a kick-in birdie at the 15th and a 23-footer at the 16th. When given the chance to take control of the match, Howell responded with big shots at the right time.
Concessions: Howell was a very generous opponent against Woods. He gave Tiger a par putt of 2 feet, 7 inches at the third hole. Howell told Tiger to pick up a 3-footer at the ninth. There is one match play strategy, which suggests short putts should be given early in competition and then nothing is conceded later in the day. I doubt Howell is capable of such gamesmanship. He and Woods have been friends since junior golf. Their mutual respect was obvious during the match as the two frequently talked and laughed
Quick finish: Bo Van Pelt needed 8 minutes to finish his match with John Senden. He had a 5-up lead against Senden when play was suspended and won the 13th hole for a 6 and 5 victory. It happened so quickly; Van Pelt had to study a nearby scoreboard to make sure he had won the match. He shook hands with Senden exactly 8 minutes after the horn sounded to resume play to post the first victory of the tournament.
Distance: PGA TOUR players practiced in bright sunshine during practice rounds. They played in a snowstorm on Wednesday, then had cold temperatures for Thursday. The three very different conditions meant golf balls were traveling different distances and it was hard to pull a club. Ian Poulter seemed to adjust quicker than most and credited “TrackMan.” He travels with a portable radar device, which tracks the trajectory of any shot. Poulter used TrackMan during his warm-up to get a feel for how far the ball was flying in the cold air. It’s not the only reason he posted a 2 and 1 win against Stephen Gallacher, but Poulter was very confident in club selection.
Walker Cup: Russell Henley had an interesting theory for his 1 up win against Charl Schwartzel. The PGA TOUR rookie reasoned he was more experienced at match play, being so recently removed from amateur competition. Henley says his Walker Cup experience gave him confidence to compete and upset the third-seeded Schwartzel.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.