Putting woes doomed Tiger Woods’ World Golf Championships Match Play Championship on Thursday as Nick Watney bounced the former world No. 1 in the second round.
Watney dismissed Woods 1-up in the Arizona desert, meaning three-time champion Woods hasn’t moved past round two since 2008.
Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer all advanced comfortably on a day where only three of 16 matches went against the seedings.
Woods almost came back from 2-down with three to play to force extra holes, but couldn’t make a five-footer on the 18th to extend the match.
It was one of half a dozen short misses for the 14-time major champion, who was unhappy with the greens at the Dove Mountain course.
“They are grainy, there’s no doubt,” he said. “I’ve asked some of the guys this week, are you struggling, and they said, yeah, they’re hard to read.”
Woods also admitted that his technique with the flat-stick needed work.
Despite witnessing Woods’ troubles, Watney admitted he was “in shock” that the match didn’t go to extra holes.
“I’m very happy to move on and I feel a bit fortunate as well,” he said. “We don’t see him miss putts like that very often, and there were a few of them.”
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy never trailed on the way to a 3-and-2 win over Denmark’s Anders Hansen, leaving his chances at ascending to world No. 1 alive as he set up a third-round tie against Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez.
“We both didn’t have our best stuff with us,” McIlroy said. “I needed to grind out a few pars and I won a few holes with pars, so I’m just happy to be through to the third round.”
McIlroy admitted the prospect of rising to the top of the rankings with a victory this week was on his mind.
“Everyone keeps telling me, so it’s hard to put it out of my mind,” he said. “It’s a little bit of extra motivation this week knowing that if I can get through four more matches, I could go to the top of the world rankings, which is obviously a huge moment for my career.”
Westwood destroyed Swede Robert Karlsson over the first 10 holes to lead 5-up and despite a few hiccups coming in, the Englishman held on for a 3-and-2 win.
The three upsets of the day belonged to Australian John Senden, South Korean Bae Sang-moon and Jimenez.
Senden, ranked 41st, hammered fellow Australian and world No. 7 Jason Day 6-and-5. Bae, ranked 44 in the world, took down Masters champion and world No. 11 Charl Schwartzel of South Africa 1-up.
Jimenez, ranked 52nd, surprised the US’ Keegan Bradley 2-and-1.
Scottish pair Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird eliminated young guns Ryo Ishikawa (1-up) and Matteo Manassero (2-and-1) to set up a third-round duel.
Steve Stricker celebrated his 45th birthday with a 1-up win over South African Louis Oosthuizen, while fellow American Dustin Johnson provided the biggest hiding of the day by belting Italy’s Francesco Molinari 7-and-5.
First-day hero Ernie Els, who eliminated world No. 1 Luke Donald on Wednesday, couldn’t maintain his form and was given a 5-and-4 lesson from Swede Peter Hanson.
World No. 4 Kaymer of Germany continued on with a solid 2-up win over US veteran David Toms.
MAYAKOBA GOLF CLASSIC
AFP, PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO
Will Claxton fired a five-under-par 66 on Thursday to top a log-jammed leaderboard after the first round of the US PGA Tour’s Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Claxton played the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon course without a bogey.