Final match pits Woods versus Cink

MARANA, Ariz. --- Tiger Woods holed another crucial putt on No. 17 Saturday, this one sending him into the 36-hole final of the Accenture Match Play Championship for the fourth time in nine tries.

Woods never trailed in a tight match with defending champion Henrik Stenson, who tied him with a 15-foot birdie on the 16th. But the 17th hole has been somewhat of a good-luck charm for the world's No. 1 player, who might not be around if not for a 35-foot eagle putt he made in the first round, or Aaron Baddeley's eagle putt that just missed to the right on Friday.

After hitting a tough bunker shot to 12 feet, Woods holed the birdie putt for a 1-up lead, and he wound up with a 2-up victory when Stenson conceded the final hole when he twice came short of the green. Woods will face Stewart Cink, who this time has a fighting chance.

Cink, who was 7 under on his first nine holes in beating Justin Leonard 4 and 2, recently played in the final group with Woods in January at the Buick Invitational. Cink started that round eight shots behind.

This time, they start all square over 36 holes at Dove Mountain.

Cink has never made it this far in the Match Play Championship, while Woods won in 2003 and 2004 and lost in the final match to Darren Clarke in 2000. It will be the sixth All-American final in 10 years of the event.

Cink's last victory was the NEC Invitational at Firestone in 2004. Since that time, he is 0-for-85 on the PGA Tour, while Woods has won 22 times in 56 starts.

Cink and Woods have met only one time in this tournament, with Woods beating him in third round of 1999.

"It feels great just to get this far," Cink said. "To be in the final, it's going to be a blast."

Woods said he never felt as if he lost control of Saturday's match. But he conceded one mistake could change everything.

"I've been in that position before," Woods said. "I've played umpteen more matches in match play that he has. And I've seen it all. And nothing really surprises me out there."

CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

WHO: Tiger Woods, U.S. vs. Stewart Cink, U.S.

WHEN: 2 p.m. today; NBC-Ch. 26

TELEVISION: Coverage begins at 10 a.m. on The Golf Channel

SATURDAY'S MATCHES: Woods (1) defeated K.J. Choi (3 and 2) and Henrik Stenson (2 up), while Cink (22) beat Angel Cabrera (3 and 2) and Justin Leonard (4 and 2)

THIRD PLACE MATCH

WHO: Henrik Stenson (13), Sweden vs. Justin Leonard (50), U.S.

SATURDAY'S MATCHES: Stenson beat Woody Austin 2 up to reach the semifinals; Leonard beat Vijay Singh 1 up.

WINNING STREAKS

Stenson had his consecutive matches won streak snapped when he lost to Woods on Saturday. A look at the longest streaks at Accenture Match Play:

PLAYERSTREAKYEARS
Tiger Woods132003-05
Geoff Ogilvy112006-07
Henrik Stenson102007-08
David Toms82005-06
Kevin Sutherland82002-03

Source: www.pgatour.com

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