MARANA, Ariz.— In an exciting opening round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championships, Davis High graduate Nick Watney survived to play another day. Tiger Woods, however, couldn’t duplicate that feat.
Watney posted a 5-and-4 victory over Anthony Kim on Wednesday in the Jones bracket, turning in 1-under 35 to Kim’s 42 and sat 5-up after nine. Kim made some noise with a pair of wins via pars on the back side, but ran out of holes. Afterward, the former Blue Devil told The Golf Channel that Kim was still sick, referencing the fact that Kim had withdrawn prior to his third round of last week’s NTO with an illness.
Watney’s reward for beating Kim is a matchup against the current No. 1 player in the world, Lee Westwood. If anyone is as hot as Westwood, it could be the DHS alumnus, who is off to a torrid start, posting top-six paydays in each of his three events this season.
Woods, the former world’s No. 1, is not as on his game, and Thomas Bjorn was the beneficiary. What was even more stunning was the way Woods lost.
Down to his last shot, Woods delivered a vintage moment when he buried an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to extend the match. Momentum on his side, he strode to the tee and stood over a 3-wood when he backed off to rehearse his swing.
“I was trying to hit a ball in play,” Woods said. “The fairway is what? Two hundred yards wide? And I can’t even put the ball in the fairway. That’s very disappointing.”
And so ended another chapter in his recovery, this one the shortest of all. Woods arrived at Dove Mountain about noon on Tuesday and was on his way home after about 30 hours.
Only he knows where he will play next. Not even he can tell how he will play.
The Accenture Match Play Championship will get on without him, as it always does, because the format is as compelling as the players. And the rest of the top players managed to get on just fine. Westwood, the No. 1 player in the world never trailed in beating Henrik Stenson in 16 holes. PGA champion Martin Kaymer sure looked like the “Germanator” with the shortest match of the opening round, 7 and 6, over 19-year-old Seung-yul Noh.
The lone American left among the top 10 seeds was Phil Mickelson, who wasn’t even going to play in this World Golf Championship until two weeks ago and looked as though he made the right decision. He won, 6 and 5, over Brendan Jones of Australia.
Lost in the dramatic departure of Woods was 17-year-old Matteo Manassero of Italy becoming the youngest winner in this tournament, with a 2-and-1 win over Steve Stricker; Ernie Els finally have an overtime match go his way; and Stewart Cink not leading until he won on the 19th hole against Ian Poulter, the first defending champion to lose in the opening round in nine years.