Battle-hardened Woods stays cool to subdue Stenson
Monday 25 February 2008
Tiger Woods never thought he was going to lose his semi-final at the Accenture Match Play Championship here on Saturday. Even when Henrik Stenson birdied the 16th hole to make it all square with two to play, top seed Woods was a picture of serenity as he went to the 17th tee.
"I've been in that position before," Woods said after winning the final two holes for a hard-fought, two-up victory at Dove Mountain. "I've played umpteen more matches than he has. I've seen it all and nothing really surprises me out there. I felt in control of the match all day." Woods, who has won six of his past seven official starts worldwide, was due to play fellow American Stewart Cink in yesterday's scheduled 36-hole final after Cink produced a brilliant front nine to defeat compatriot Justin Leonard four and two.
Swede Stenson, last year's winner, was the lone European survivor in the final four, and he kept it close but never led as his putter deserted him at a couple of crucial moments.
Woods and Stenson won a hole each on the front nine, and halved the other seven to turn all square. Then the American, champion in 2003 and 2004, took the lead with a birdie at the 10th and they halved the next five holes until Stenson pulled level with a 15-foot birdie at the par-three 16th. But Woods regained the lead with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th.
"It was a nice putt to make," said Woods. "It's fun to have the opportunity. Whether you succeed or fail, at least you have a chance. Luckily over my career, I've succeeded more than I've failed. Every match is its own little battle. One of the things I learned from my dad is in matchplay you have 18 battles. You've just got to win more than they do."
l Paula Creamer rallied to win the Fields Open in Hawaii for her fifth US LPGA Tour title, birdieing four of the final five holes for a final round of 66 and a one-stroke victory over South Korean Jeong Jang on Saturday. Briton's Karen Stupples finished joint-fifth, five shots behind.
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