Wed, Jul 30, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Mickelson, Garcia beat Els, Woods in exhibition


Tiger Woods reacts to another missed birdie putt on the 13th hole during the Battle At The Bridges in Rancho Santa Fe, California on Monday.


Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, both winless this year in major tournaments, stole the spotlight from the world's best two players Monday by beating Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, 3 and 1, in the ``Battle at the Bridges.''

It was the fifth version of Monday Night Golf, the made-for-television exhibition designed to bring golf to prime time. This one featured the best golf and the least amount of fun.

All four of players were grinding, halving seven straight holes on the back nine as Mickelson and Garcia of Spain, who never trailed, clung to a 1-up lead.

When the sun dropped behind the foothills and the lights came on, Garcia and Mickelson shone. Both hit their second shots over the water to the 514m 16th hole.

"Sergio hit two great golf shots on 16 and made a beautiful putt," Woods said. "They both played really solid. They put a lot of pressure on us. Ernie and I didn't quite get it done."

South Africa's Els hit his approach into the water, while Woods caught a bunker left of the green. Garcia, who had missed several birdie putts that could have given his team a big lead, finally came through with a 30-footer that was true as soon as it left his putter.

That gave them a 2-up lead, and they closed out Woods and Els on the 17th hole when the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world failed to come close to a birdie.

It was only the second time Woods has lost since the Monday night exhibitions began in 1999, both times to Garcia.

Woods went back to his old Titleist driver for the first time in 18 months, but that was never a problem on the Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe.

Garcia and Mickelson were a combined 8 under through 17 holes. They each earned US$600,000 from the US$1.7 million purse, while Woods and Els got US$250,000 each.

After three years at Bighorn in the California desert, the match moved to the Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, an expansive enclave in the foothills north of San Diego.

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