Marana, Ariz. — Just about everything went according to plan for Tiger Woods in his celebrated return to golf. Except he didn’t plan on leaving this early.
Woods had no complaints with his game or his knee, but he had no answer Thursday for Tim Clark of South Africa, who played 16 holes without a bogey and knocked the world’s No. 1 player out of the Accenture Match Play Championship.
So where does Woods go from here?
“I go to the airport,” he said
His swing looked as good as it did eight months ago when he won the U.S. Open. His knee felt so strong that when Woods discovered his tee shot into the desert on the 15th hole hit a cart path and went out of bounds — a shot that ended any hope of a rally — he chose to walk 350 yards back to the tee instead of accepting a ride in the cart.
“I knew I had to play out of my mind to beat him,” Clark said.
And he did, pouring in six birdies and constantly putting the pressure on Woods throughout a sunny day in the high desert. Clark won, 4 and 2, when he hit his tee shot to 4 feet that Woods conceded for birdie after failing to chip in from off the green.
“I hit it really good today,” Woods said. “I just didn’t make enough birdies.”
Phil Mickelson, the No. 5 seed who survived another scare, is the highest-rated player left in a tournament that is now down to 16 players. Mickelson defeated Zach Johnson, 1-up.