Marana, Arizona: Tiger Woods got his first match out of the way at the Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday, although this time he had to work for it. One year after he set a tournament record with a 9-and-8 victory in the opening round, Woods relied on a big par save early and a near ace on the 14th hole to put away Ryder Cup teammate J J Henry, 3 and 2. For the second straight year, the shortest day belonged to Stephen Ames of Canada. He was on the losing end of that record rout by Woods at La Costa, but experienced the flip side of this fickle tournament by making seven birdies in 11 holes to bury Robert Karlsson of Sweden, 8 and 7. Fourth-seeded Phil Mickelson got a minor scare, trailing fellow lefty Richard Green of Australia and not taking the lead until the 14th hole. Mickelson won, 1-up, when Green missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. Jim Furyk, the No 2 seed, also trailed at the turn until making three straight birdies and beating Brett Quigley, 2 and 1. Micheel upsets Scott Shaun Micheel, who ended Woods' worldwide winning streak last September by beating him in the first round of the World Match Play Championship, was up to his old tricks. He knocked out one of the top seeds - Australia's Adam Scott at No 3 - in 21 holes. Scott made a birdie on the 18th to force extra holes, then three-putted on No 3, missing a 5-foot par putt. Woods said only the score made it look like an easy day. "It was actually a pretty tight match," he said. Woods advanced to face Tim Clark of South Africa, a 3-and-2 winner over Robert Allenby of Australia. Some feel this might be the toughest hurdle in Woods' unlikely quest to win 11 straight US PGA Tour events, the record Byron Nelson set over five months in 1945. But on a warm day of swirling winds in the high desert - and on The Gallery course with tight pins - he did himself a favor by not getting behind. Close call But there was one close call. Woods pulled his tee shot into the desert on the second hole and was lucky to have a play. He hit the ball short of the green, and his pitch stayed on the front of the green some 20 feet from the hole. Henry, meanwhile, had a 12-foot birdie putt and was poised to go 1-up. But the holed was halved when Woods made the putt and Henry missed his. Two holes later, Woods won with a par and never trailed. "Hitting the ball in the desert like this, it's pot luck," Woods said. "I had a shot. More than likely, I should have been in a bush or some kind of unplayable (lie), and J.J. should have won the hole with a 4. But I got lucky, got a break and was able to make a putt." He was 2-up until the 14th, when his 8-iron spun back to within a foot of the cup for birdie. From there, it was a matter of when Henry would run out of holes. Ames ran out of holes quickly, only this time he left the course with a smile. Ames, who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and now lives in Calgary, didn't even realize he had won the match after chipping in for birdie on the 11th and final hole. Then he called his wife, who was surprised to hear from him so soon. Ames said the conversation went like this: "You're done?" she said. "Yeah. I played 11 holes," he replied. "And ..." "I won't be coming home tonight," said Ames, who faces Vijay Singh in the second round. And he said there was a simple explanation for the sudden turnaround. "It's nice to be out of Carlsbad," Ames said. "I saw the ball going in the hole for a change, rather than bouncing." Quick exit The change of venue didn't matter to Ernie Els. He stopped coming to La Costa for two years and looked forward to a new golf course in dry condition with smooth greens. The Big Easy still made a quick exit, missing four putts inside 10 feet and losing 4 and 2 to Bradley Dredge of Wales. Mickelson, coming off a victory at Pebble Beach and a playoff loss at Riviera, was surprised to see the pins tucked on the corners, especially on smooth greens that dropped off at the edges. "I thought they were ridiculous," Mickelson said. "But everyone had to play them, so it was fair. You couldn't play aggressively. You had to play defensively away from the flags." That worked out for him, though, when he holed a 35-foot birdie on the 13th hole to square the match, then won the 14th and 16th with pars and hung on for the victory.
Topics : Golf