Golf: Woods is felled by steady Maggert casualty

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The Independent Online
TIGER WOODS finally fell under the deadly spell of the underdogs at the Andersen Consulting World Matchplay Championship in yesterday afternoon's quarter-finals. The world No1 and top seed lost to Jeff Maggert, the 24th seed and the highest ranked player remaining for the weekend.

In today's all-American semi-finals Maggert, who won 2 and 1, plays Steve Pate, who finally ended Eduardo Romero's inspired run which included a third round win over Phil Mickelson. The other semi features Andrew Magee against John Huston, who defeated Jose Maria Olazabal 2 and 1.

Woods, the overwhelming favourite for the title, looked to be in no trouble as he went to the turn in three under to be one hole up. But three crucial birdies from his opponent led to the biggest upset in a tournament of upsets.

Maggert holed from 12 feet to square the match at the 10th and when he birdied the par-five 12th, Woods failed to get up and down from a bunker to match him. Another 12-footer for birdie at the 15th put Maggert two up with three to play. After the 16th was halved, Woods violently hooked his drive at the 569-yard 17th and could only match his opponents par.

"I had to hit that drive hard to give myself any chance of getting home in two," Woods said. He added: "It's unfortunate but we had a great match. I made some good putts but didn't make enough birdies. I'm pretty tired right now, especially mentally."

Maggert joins a select band of Tiger-tamers, which includes the English professional Paul Page, who beat Woods in the 1993 US Amateur, Gary Wolstenholme, who won their singles match in the 1995 Walker Cup, Costantino Rocca, who did likewise at the '97 Ryder Cup, and Spain's Alfred Dunhill Cup player, Santiago Luna. The 35-year-old, whose one win on the US tour came in 1993 under floodlights after lengthy rain delays, plays a different game from Woods, hitting fairways and greens.

"He has a big advantage on the par-fives with his length but I was one- up on those holes and that is a big plus to me," Maggert said. "Tiger is the best player out here, he's got a proven record and his matchplay form is impeccable. I knew I had to be five or six under and then I made a silly bogey at the first but after that I was steady and Tiger didn't make as many putts as he normally does."

Olazabal was Europe's only representative in the quarter-finals after Bernhard Langer and Patrik Sjoland were defeated in the morning's third round. Langer lost a classic see-saw matchplay game with Maggert by one hole while Sjoland was on the receiving end of the sort of reverse he enjoyed against Carlos Franco in Thursday's second round. Then Sjoland came from three down with seven to play with a stunning finish which included putting his approach to the last to within a foot of the hole.

But yesterday morning, having established a three-hole advantage with five holes to play against John Huston, the 27-year-old suddenly crumbled, losing four holes in a row. Huston birdied the short 14th but poor tee shots at the next two holes led to bogeys from Sjoland.

At the 17th, Huston holed a difficult six-footer for a birdie to be one up and, though the American chipped 12 feet past the hole at the last, he sank the putt coming back to ensure a one-hole win. "Now I know how Carlos felt yesterday," said Sjoland. "I just didn't hit very good shots and missed a few fairways."

Whether it was stiffness or that he could not just find his rhythm, Langer struggled early on. A poor drive at the first gave Maggert an early advantage which the American promptly gave up at the next. More significant was Maggert winning the fourth, fifth and seventh, where Langer spun back into the water.

But when Maggert bogeyed the eighth, Langer capitalised by birdieing the next two to get back to all square with eight to play. That was when the American made a match winning charge by holing birdie putts of 12, ten and seven feet from the 12th. "I had just started to play well and got the momentum back," Langer lamented.

A birdie at the 15th got one hole back for the German and then Maggert bogeyed the 16th. Langer needed to hole from 12 feet at 18 to have any chance. The ball passed by on the left. "It broke more than I thought," he said.

But overall Langer was pleased with a week in which he beat Brad Faxon and Vijay Singh to reach the third round. After a year of health problems, the 41-year-old is fitter than for some time. He will now play the next four weeks in Florida before a week off and then the Masters.

MATCHPLAY SCORES

QUARTER-FINALS

US unless stated Higher-ranked player listed first T Woods lost to J Maggert

2 and 1

S Pate bt E Romero (Arg)

3 and 2

A Magee bt S Maruyama (Japan)

one hole

JM Olazabal (Sp) lost to J Huston

2 and 1

THIRD ROUND

Woods bt S Cink

2 and 1

B Langer (Ger) lost to Maggert

1 hole

B Glasson lost to Magee

1 hole

L Roberts lost to Maruyama

2 and 1

Pate bt F Couples

1 hole

Romero bt P Mickelson

2 and 1

Olazabal bt S Jones

1 hole

Huston bt P Sjoland (Swe)

1 hole

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