Tiger Woods survives tough opener in Match Play

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain said that if he played well, he could beat Tiger Woods in the opening round of the Accenture Match Play Championships.

Ultimately, though neither golfer played well, Woods managed to eke out a 1-up victory by getting up and down from the sand on the 18th hole.

For a while, it appeared that Fernandez-Castano could actually win, as both players spent lots of time hitting from the scrub and desert that surround the fairways in Marana, Ariz.

He jumped to a two-up lead after two holes, lost the lead, then managed to move ahead again early in the back nine. Then he seemed to realize that he was playing Tiger Woods.

Late in the match, that the old Tiger Woods intimidation factor -- missing for the last two years -- seemed to come into play.

Woods had squared up the match with a birdie on 15 when Fernandez-Castano failed to make an eight-foot birdie putt that would have tied the hole. 

On the 207-yard 16th, Woods hit first and put his tee shot on the left side of the green.

Fernandez-Castano then yanked his tee shot almost over the state line, dropping his club as soon as the ball left the clubface. His chip shot over a bunker came up about five feet short of the hole, and just as he had done on the hole before, he missed to the low side of the hole.

Woods two-putted from about 30 feet to go one up with two to play.

The players halved 17 and Fernandez-Castano needed to win the 480-yard par-four 18th to extend the match.  Both players hit the fairway, but Woods missed the green and found the right-side bunker after Fernandez-Castano had put his ball about 12 feet from the pin.

Woods knocked his sand shot to about 12 feet, and after Fernandez-Castano ran his putt by on the right for the third straight hole, Woods lined up the putt that would give him the match.

He sank it.


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