Ruthless Clark proves Tiger's resurgence a desert mirage

After waiting more than eight months for their superstar to return, the golfing world watched on aghast here last night as the grand comeback of Tiger Woods was curtailed prematurely. It was Tim Clark who spoiled the party, turning out the lights in ruthless fashion.

Few expected Clark, a player ranked 32 places below the world No 1, to advance to the third round of the Accenture World Match Play Championship and even fewer anticipated the scoreline being 4&2. But with a performance that verged on the faultless, the South African claimed the biggest scalp in the game. Woods would have needed to have been at his very best to prevail. Unsurprisingly he wasn't.

Having been absent since last June and having undergone radical knee surgery, it was too much to expect Woods to skip back as if he had never been away. But such is the majesty of the man that it was irresistible not to anticipate yet another remarkable chapter to his story. And despite Clark's excellence here, there were still moments when it seemed that Woods would deliver the miraculous yet again.

This was particularly true on the par-four 14th after Clark had just gone three up. He appeared certain to increase his advantage as he found the green and Woods located sand. But with a flick of those magical wrists, Woods plopped the ball on to the green and from there it rolled into the hole. Suddenly he was only two down and the stage was set for the usual Tiger finale. Clark would roll over and the man would walk through.

Except the resurgence was a wicked illusion in the desert. Woods bogeyed the 15th after hitting his drive out of bounds, Clark birdied and then struck his tee-shot on the par-three 16th to four feet. It was over and despite the evidence of Clark's scorecards showing that he had been six under for the 16 holes, and that for the successive day he had avoided taking a bogey, the significance of the exit would inevitably be blown up. For his part, Woods appeared anything but distraught, accepting that he had come up against an inspired opponent. "I'm pleased with the way I played," he said. "I played well but couldn't get the ball in the hole. Tim is a really good player."

It is likely that Woods will return in two weeks time at the WGC CA Championship at Doral. How he will fare in the less volatile strokeplay format will be the real test, although there does not seem to be much wrong with his game. He certainly sprinkled the stardust on this championship and with respect to Clark it would have been so good for the event if he had progressed. For today, he would have met Rory McIlroy, the amazing teenager from Ulster who has added yet more substance to his huge reputation.

McIlroy was two down to Hunter Mahan, the Ryder Cup performer, with six holes remaining. But where Woods failed to launch a winning fight-back, McIlroy succeeded. The 19-year-old birdied four of that last half-dozen to make his date with Clark.

British and Irish interest will not end there, however. For England, this had already been a record-breaking event as six out of the seven entrants had made it into the second round. Now, incredibly, five remain, Lee Westwood the only loser yesterday and even he went to the fifth extra hole before succumbing to Stewart Cink.

Paul Casey won 6&4, Luke Donald came from two down with two left to beat Vijay Singh on the 19th, while Ian Poulter inched out Charl Schwartzel on the last. But perhaps the finest two displays came from two Accenture newcomers. Oliver Wilson repeated his Ryder Cup taming of the highly-rated Anthony Kim and Ross Fisher hammered Pat Perez 6&5. Stunning results. Although nothing would take the breath away as much as Tiger's exit. He is back. And yes, he is still human.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London