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Woods alone at the top again

He defeats Clark handily, but Mickelson, Furyk, Singh and Goosen are ousted in the second round of match play.

February 23, 2007|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

MARANA, ARIZ. — Tiger Woods stayed around, but Phil Mickelson said goodbye Thursday in the $8-million Accenture Match Play Championship at the Gallery Golf Club, where Woods had no problems getting past Tim Clark and Mickelson had nothing but trouble putting away Justin Rose.

Woods scored a 5-and-4 decision over Clark, a match most notable for a quick start by Woods, who was 5-up after six holes.

After a quick bite to eat and before a trip to the driving range, Woods explained the secret to his success.

"The whole idea is I put a lot of pressure on Timmy, as much as I possibly could," he said. "I ended up having a pretty good-sized lead early in the match.

"You don't want to have him get any momentum."

As for Mickelson, there was an almost total absence of momentum, although he probably deserved better. Mickelson had six birdies but had a bad break and a bogey on consecutive holes and wound up on the losing end of a 3-and-1 decision to Rose.

Woods made seven birdies in the first 13 holes against the 33rd-ranked Clark and ended the match with a two-putt par at the 14th.

Woods will play Nick O'Hern in today's third round, and if he wins that, he's halfway toward his goal of six victories by Sunday, and an eighth consecutive PGA Tour event title.

Another hot player is defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who birdied the last two holes to defeat Jose Maria Olazabal, 2 and 1. Ogilvy had eight birdies and has 14 in all after 32 holes.

On the other hand, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh joined Mickelson on the sidelines, which means that after two rounds, Woods is the only one of the top eight seeded players still around.

Chad Campbell birdied the last three holes and beat Furyk in 19 holes. Niclas Fasth defeated Goosen, 1-up, and Singh lost to Stephen Ames in 19 holes.

O'Hern has history with Woods -- he beat him in the second round of the Match Play Championships at La Costa in 2005.

Ogilvy said that making five birdies in the first eight holes wasn't a bad way to start.

"You've got to get very lucky if you're not going to win a match not making lots of birdies," he said.

Got that? In other words, you need to make birdies to win around this place.

Woods is as good as anyone getting that done. A two-time champion of the match play event, Woods made a five-foot birdie putt at the first hole and went 2-up when Clark conceded a five-foot par putt to Woods after Clark could do no better than bogey, finding a bunker.

Woods hit a 314-yard drive at the 495-yard fourth, knocked his second shot to seven feet and rolled in a downhill birdie putt for a 3-up lead.

The 635-yard fifth couldn't stand up to Woods, who took a 4-up lead when he made his third birdie putt of the match.

Clark, who has been bothered by a neck injury, drove into the desert at the sixth and Woods was 5-up soon after, rolling in a 16-foot putt for his fourth birdie.

Mickelson, who lost to Charles Howell III in the Nissan Open playoff Sunday, had another disappointment four days later. Mickelson missed a third-round rematch of sorts with Howell, who will play Rose instead, after Howell defeated Sergio Garcia, 4 and 3.

It's the first time Mickelson hasn't reached at least the third round in five years, since he lost to John Cook in the first round in 2002. He caught an unlucky break at the 15th hole when Rose saved par, even driving it into the desert and eventually making a 30-foot putt to halve the hole and remain 1-up.

When Mickelson bogeyed the 16th, time had basically run out.

"I had six birdies, I thought that might have been OK," he said. "Then he made that long putt, so instead of being even, I was one down, then I bogeyed the 16th."

It was the end of a long stretch of golf for Mickelson, who played six consecutive weeks -- the Hope, Torrey Pines, Phoenix, Pebble Beach, Riviera and the match play. He said he wasn't worn down.

"I don't know," he said. "I didn't feel out of tune, I just didn't get it done."

thomas.bonk@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Today's pairings

Third-round pairings (with seedings) at the Accenture Match Play Championship (all times Pacific; TV coverage on the Golf Channel, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m.):

* 10:12 a.m. -- Justin Rose (36) vs. Charles Howell III (45)

* 10:24 -- Ian Poulter (28) vs. Trevor Immelman (12)

* 10:36 -- Shaun Micheel (62) vs. Paul Casey (14)

* 10:48 -- Niclas Fasth (38) vs. Geoff Ogilvy (11)

* 11 -- Tiger Woods (1) vs. Nick O'Hern (16)

* 11:12 -- Aaron Baddeley (40) vs. Henrik Stenson (9)

* 11:24 -- Chad Campbell (34) vs. David Toms (18)

* 11:36 -- Stephen Ames (39) vs. Stewart Cink (23)

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