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.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Life and Style
A general view during the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Earl's Court exhibition centre on 2 December, 2014 in London, England
fashionIt's not all about the catwalks: the big changes of the past year can be summed up in six clothing items
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?