Marana, Ariz. Tiger Woods had a five-foot birdie putt to extend the match, and Nick Watney already was thinking about how to play the next hole. He had his yardage book out, trying to decide whether 3-wood was the right club to hit off the first tee.
“The old adage is to expect your opponent to make it,” Watney said. “And when it’s Tiger Woods, you really expect him to make it.”
Just not this Tiger Woods.
In what is becoming a troubling trend for Woods, he missed the birdie putt so badly that it never even touched the hole, giving Watney a 1-up victory Thursday in the Match Play Championship.
It was the third straight time that Woods, a three-time champion in this event, failed to get out of the second round.
“I didn’t miss a single shot coming in, which is good. And that was fun, to hit the ball that well,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I just didn’t make a putt when I needed it.”
Woods missed three putts inside 10 feet over the last six holes, none more important than the last one.
Two weeks ago, Woods couldn’t buy a putt at Pebble Beach and closed with a 75, 11 shots worse than playing partner Phil Mickelson. He also struggled to make putts in Abu Dhabi, when he failed to win despite being tied for the 54-hole lead with Robert Rock.
“I’m very happy to move on. I feel a bit fortunate, as well,” Watney said. “We don’t see him miss putts like that very often. And there were a few of them.”
Watney next plays Lee Westwood, the former world No. 1 whom Watney has beaten at Dove Mountain each of the last two years. Westwood had no trouble against Robert Karlsson of Sweden, advancing to the third round for the first time in 12 tries at this fickle event.
“Need more clothes. Didn’t pack for long enough!” Westwood jokingly tweeted.
England has won this World Golf Championship the last two years — Luke Donald and Ian Poulter — and Westwood is its last hope to make it three in a row.