Thu, Feb 21, 2013 - Page 20 News List

PGA TOUR: Tiger praises Obama’s game ahead of Match Play

AP, MARANA, Arizona

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the second hole during a practice round for the Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Tiger Woods delivered a “State of the Game” on US President Barack Obama’s golfing prowess and the news was not all bad.

“If he ever spent — after these four years — spent more time playing the game of golf, I’m sure he could get to where he’s a pretty good stick,” Woods said yesterday.

Woods comes into the Match Play Championship on somewhat of a winning streak. While he revealed very few details about his Sunday round with Obama at The Floridian, he at least made sure everyone knew that they won.

The competition was to pick up at Dove Mountain, where the first World Golf Championship of the year started yesterday in what might be frigid weather. Instead of having Obama as his partner against Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and outgoing US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the second-seeded Woods opens this fickle tournament against Charles Howell III in a match that takes both of them back to their youth.

The last time they faced each other in this format, Woods beat Howell in the quarter-finals of the 1996 US Amateur.

Woods is the only three-time winner of the Match Play Championship, although he has not advanced out of the second round since he last won this event in 2008. The names in the 64-man field have changed over the years.

The strategy has not.

“The whole idea is just to beat one guy at a time,” Woods said. “That’s the thing. There are times where I’ve played well in matches and I’ve lost, and other times where I’ve played poorly and advanced. It’s pot luck in these 18-hole sprints like this. As I said, it’s imperative to get off to a quick start and get up on your opponent early.”

Rory McIlroy is the No. 1 seed and will play Shane Lowry, a longtime friend and former partner on the Irish team that won the European Team Championships in 2007. In a similar match, former US Open champion Graeme McDowell plays three-time major champion Padraig Harrington.

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