Australian challenge ends in Arizona
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2008 Accenture Match Play Championship | Round Three | 23 Feb 2008
At the start of the week there were ten, then five, then three and now there are no Australians remaining in the World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play Championship.
Aaron Baddeley, Stuart Appleby and Rod Pampling had all advanced to the third round at the event near Tucson in Arizona but by day’s end they were on their way home – US$130,000 richer but perhaps, especially for Pampling and Baddeley, wondering what might have been.
Rod Pampling let slip a great opportunity to beat Vijay Singh after he birdied the 15th and 16th to move to two up with two to play in his match against the Fijian.
Singh responded with a birdie at the 17th to keep the match alive and then at the last Singh was able to salvage par while Pampling bogeyed from the same bunker and the match was headed to extra time.
Pampling looked as if he might have won in extra time, when his 45 foot eagle putt at the first extra hole looked like it was in the hole with two feet to run but missed. Both made birdie but six holes later the match was Singh’s when Pampling bogeyed the par five and the Queenslander’s brave challenge was finally extinguished.
The match of the day however was perhaps the contest between Tiger Woods and Aaron Baddeley, and a contest it certainly was, as the Australian survived an early Woods onslaught and fought his way back to take the game’s greatest player to extra time.
In fact Baddeley had the chance to win the match at the 18th hole but he missed from 12 feet although he appeared to have an even better chance at the 19th, missing a 12 foot putt that looked for a long while as if it was dead centre.
Woods finally broke the deadlock and won the match at the 20th when he holed a 14 foot birdie putt after Baddeley missed from 25 feet
The end result was a win to Woods but while Baddeley will be disappointed at not capitalising on late opportunities, he can take a lot from the match in addition to the US$130,000 he receives for being a third round loser.
“I’m playing great and I made him win it,” said Baddeley after the match. “I’m pleased with the way I fought back after Tiger’s two early birdies and felt like I could have won it.”
He didn’t but his nine birdies today against such a tough competitor will ensure he is an even better player leaving the tournament than he was last Wednesday.
“It was an unbelievable match,” said Woods. “I’m mentally very tired as I knew all along I had to make birdies.” He made eleven of them in 20 holes and only just survived.
Woods will meet K.J. Choi in the quarter-finals after the South Korean defeated England’s Paul Casey 2 up.
Stuart Appleby was behind early in his match and never really got a look in as Justin Leonard finished the day with a total of eight birdies to win 3&2. Appleby was far from disgraced with three birdies and an eagle but his impressive run was over when both parred the 16th.
So the quarter finals will see Woods against K.J. Choi, defending champion Henrik Stenson against Woody Austin, Angel Cabrera against Stewart Cink and Vijay Singh against Justin Leonard.