MARANA, Ariz. — The roar resonated across Dove Mountain from fans packed around the 18th green as Tiger Woods, needing a birdie on the last hole to stay in his match, hit a shot that dropped out of the Arizona sky and landed 5 feet from the hole.
That was followed by silence.
Woods missed the putt so badly that it never even touched the hole.
No one was more surprised than Nick Watney, who removed his cap to shake hands with Woods after a 1-up victory Thursday in the Match Play Championship. It was the third consecutive time in this fickle event that Woods failed to get out of the second round, and it raised more questions about his ability to make key putts that once seemed automatic.
“I was fighting the blocks all day with my putter,” said Woods, who missed three putts from inside 10 feet on the last six holes. “Left-to-right putt, I took it slightly shut right there, and I knew it – and blocked it open.”
“I’m very happy to move on. I feel a bit fortunate, as well,” Watney said. “We don’t see him miss putts like that very often. And there were a few of them.”
Watney next plays Lee Westwood, the former world No. 1 whom Watney has beaten at Dove Mountain each of the past two years. Westwood had no trouble against Robert Karlsson, of Sweden, advancing to the third round for the first time in 12 tries at this event.
“Need more clothes. Didn’t pack for long enough!” Westwood jokingly tweeted.
England has won this World Golf Championship the past two years – Luke Donald and Ian Poulter – and Westwood is its last hope to make it three in a row.
The surprise was that Scotland had two players remaining: Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie took down Ryo Ishikawa, and Martin Laird defeated Matteo Manassero. Lawrie and Laird face each other in the third round.
U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 seed, made only three birdies but won two consecutive holes with par to put away Anders Hansen and advance to the third round.
He plays Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 48-year-old Spaniard who beat PGA champion Keegan Bradley, 2 and 1.