Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Tiger Woods is two down after 13 holes in his second-round match against Nick Watney in golf’s World Match Play Championship.
Watney won the 10th and 12th holes after the players finished the opening nine tied at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Marana, Arizona. Watney celebrated his 18-foot birdie putt on the 12th with a subtle fist pump as Woods stood nearby.
In today’s completed matches, American Dustin Johnson defeated Italy’s Francesco Molinari 7-and-5, meaning he led by seven holes with five to play, while John Senden beat fellow Australian Jason Day 6-and-5.
Steve Stricker of the U.S. beat Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa on the 18th hole and Mark Wilson of the U.S. beat England’s Robert Rock 3-and-2. Martin Laird and Paul Lawrie of Scotland will meet in the next round after Laird beat Matteo Manassero of Italy 2-and-1 and Lawrie topped Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa on the last hole.
Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa is one down against South Korea’s Sang-Moon Bae; Matt Kuchar is three up on fellow American Bubba Watson; Lee Westwood of England is three up on Robert Karlsson of Sweden; and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is one up on Anders Hansen.
Woods advanced to the second round when he sank a six-foot par putt after blasting out of a sand trap on the 18th hole to defeat Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano yesterday. He had trailed the match through 14 holes.
Defending champion Luke Donald and 2010 winner Ian Poulter, both from England, were among those eliminated in the first round.
Donald, who won the title last year without having to play the 18th hole, lost 5-and-4 to South Africa’s Ernie Els. Donald is the fourth defending champion to lose in the opening round in the 14-year history of the tournament.
Els is three down to Peter Hanson in his match today.
Donald will be replaced atop the world rankings by U.S. Open champion McIlroy or Westwood if either wins the title.
Woods, 20th in the Official World Golf Ranking going into the tournament, won the World Match Play title in 2003, 2004 and 2008. He is chasing his first win on the U.S. PGA Tour since September 2009. In December, he ended a 749-day winless streak at the Chevron World Challenge, an 18-player invitational tournament that he hosts, and this year has finished third at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and tied for 15th at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Match play involves head-to-head competition over 18 holes, each one decided by the low score. The match is decided when one player has an insurmountable lead. In stroke-play events, which make up most of the world’s pro golf tours, the player with the lowest score wins the tournament.
--Editors: Dex McLuskey, Larry Siddons.
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