When Friday began at the World Match Play, the big news was that the tour would be able to complete two days of golf in a row without being interrupted by the rains that have been so oppressive over the last week in Southern California. By the end of the day, the big story changed from the beautiful weather to the huge upsets occurring throughout the day.
Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, and Davis Love III all were eliminated. Talk about busted brackets. Retief Goosen and Stewart Cink remain the only 1 and 2-seeds still alive.
For Woods, his second-round loss to Nick O'Hern ended his streak of thirteen straight victories in the World Match Play. If the match had to be summed up in one word, it would be putting. Tiger was unable to hole much of anything with the flat stick. Conversely, the Australian O'Hern, who upset Charles Howell III in the first round, was draining putts whenever he needed them. O'Hern went ahead early on in the match and Tiger never got within one. Entering the 17th Tiger was on his last breath, and O'Hern pulled the plug with a fantastic approach from the right rough to set up a 15-foot birdie-putt, which he would make to gain the 3 and 1 victory.
The magic wasn't over for O'Hern who continued his great play by taking down Luke Donald with four birdies before finally winning the match 5 and 4 thanks to two bogies by Donald. O'Hern is now in the quarterfinals and set to take on Ian Poulter who has also wielded an invincible aura throughout the tournament.
Woods wasn't the only big gun to make an early exit at La Costa. Vijay Singh continued his trend of 2nd round exits with a 3 and 2 loss to the 51 year-old Jay Haas, who refuses to believe his birth certificate is correct and continues to have success on the regular circuit. Luckily for Vijay, Tiger's early exit means his world number one ranking is safe for yet another week.
Mickelson was one of the few stars to make it to the third round; however, that was where his journey ended. In the second round, Lefty rolled to a 4 and 3 victory. Mickelson was on fire, putting on a short game clinic for the fans. Mickelson holed out a bunker shot on the fly and seemed unstoppable after nailing miracle recovery shots from every part of the course. Phil's 6 birdies against Angel Cabrera were too much for the Argentinian.
However, in the third round, the tables would be turned on Mickelson who became the victim of a similar birdie barrage by David Toms. Toms needed just sixteen holes to eliminate Mickelson, making good use of seven birdies to win the match 4 and 2. Mickelson's short game magic seemed spent in this match, and he was left scratching his head as to why he couldn't get up-and-down from the thick rough.
Other upsets seemed to be in the making, but they were not to be. In the second round, tenth-seed Jerry Kelly pushed second-seed Sergio Garcia to an extra hole, but the Spaniard prevailed (only to handily lose to fellow youngster Adam Scott in the third round). The last remaining one-seed, U.S. Open Champion Retief Goosen needed nineteen holes to defeat Chad Campbell in the third round. After his performances the past two weeks, it's very difficult to call Campbell a quitter since Campbell had to play 24 holes to finish his second-round match against Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Bobby Jones bracket
(2) Stewart Cink vs. (4) Chris DiMarco
Gary Player bracket
(1) Retief Goosen vs. (11) Robert Allenby
Ben Hogan bracket
(8) Nick O'Hern vs. (11) Ian Poulter
Sam Snead bracket
(4) David Toms vs (3) Adam Scott