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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

IU alum ends Tiger's streak

Former Hoosier golfer beats Woods in match play

VIRGINIA WATER, England -- The putt wasn't even halfway to the hole when Tiger Woods turned away in disgust, removed his cap and walked over to shake hands with Shaun Micheel.\nOne round, and his tournament was over.\nAnd for the first time in two months, he left without a trophy.\nThe longest winning streak in Woods' career -- five tournaments -- came to an abrupt end Thursday in the World Match Play Championship when Micheel put him in a deep hole and waited to see if the world's No. 1 player could escape.\nWoods' last hope was a 15-foot birdie putt, and like so many other putts at Wentworth, it never had a chance. The score was 4 and 3, tying Woods' worst beating in match play.\n"I don't think you're ever excited when you've lost," Woods said.\nIt's been a long time since he has.\nThe winning streak began some four hours away in Hoylake when Woods captured the British Open on Aug. 30. Then came a three-shot victory in the Buick Open, followed by his 12th career major at the PGA Championship, a playoff victory in the Bridgestone Invitational and his 63 in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship to rally from three shots to beat Vijay Singh.\nBut in his favorite format -- 36-hole matches -- against the No. 77 player in the world, Woods finally looked mortal.\n"He didn't have too many fist pumps today, which is unusual for him in a 36-hole day, because he usually runs off five, six birdies in a row," Micheel said. "And he just wasn't able to do that."\nThe only thing more surprising than Woods' losing was the company he kept on his way out the door.\nJim Furyk, who rose to No. 2 in the world by winning the Canadian Open on Sunday, got hammered by Robert Karlsson, 6 and 4. Also losing was Ernie Els, a six-time winner of the HSBC World Match Play Championship. Els tried to rally against Angel Cabrera, but hit two tee shots out of play on the 17th hole and conceded the match, 2 and 1.\nThe only consolation for Els was the match ending about 200 yards away from his house.\nOnly two of the top seeds in the 16-man field advanced to the second round and kept alive their hopes of golf's richest prize -- 1 million pounds ($1.87 million) to the winner. Defending champion and top-seeded Michael Campbell dispatched Simon Khan, 3 and 1, and Luke Donald (No. 7) outlasted Tim Clark, 2 up.\nIn other matches, Paul Casey beat two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, 6 and 4; Colin Montgomerie beat David Howell, 1 up; and former Masters champion Mike Weir defeated Adam Scott, 3 and 2.\nWoods' immediate future was unclear. The U.S. team arrives Monday morning in Dublin for the Ryder Cup, and Woods didn't know if he would stick around the British Isles or return home to Florida.\n"Right now, I'm probably going to work out and get some of this frustration out," he said.\nWhat he needed to work on was his putting, the key to his success during his winning streak. Woods missed 17 birdie putts inside 18 feet, including one stretch of five straight holes that could have helped him stay close to Micheel in the morning.\nMicheel didn't do anything spectacular like that 7-iron he hit to two inches on the last hole to win the 2003 PGA Championship for his only victory. He was simply solid, which was all that was required.\nHe had a 3-up lead after the morning round and didn't flinch when Woods won the first two holes of the afternoon. On the par-5 fourth, Woods hit a weak chip to 8 feet and his birdie putt to halve the hole lost speed and dipped sharply away to the right. Three holes later, Micheel hit 8-iron to 3 feet for birdie to restore his margin.\n"I had my chances," Woods said. "I just had a hard time with my pace. And if you have a hard time with your pace, it's hard to read greens. It got a little better in the afternoon, but by then it was too late."\nMicheel was runner-up at Medinah last month, finishing five shots behind Woods.\n"I finish second to him more times than he'll ever finish second to me," Micheel said. "Sometimes things just don't go your way. If this was a four-day event, things might be a little bit different."\nIt was a blow to the tournament, which broke ticket sales with Woods in the field. The fans were packed behind every green to see Woods at Wentworth for the first time in eight years. This wasn't what anyone expected.\nNot that the eight players who won their opening matches were terribly upset.\n"See the smile on my face?" Campbell said. "It makes our job a lot easier."\nMontgomerie got up-and-down from short of the 18th green for birdie to win his match over Howell, then came into the press center for an interview just in time to see Micheel make a 12-foot eagle and go 4 up on Woods with six holes to play.\nA few minutes later, before anyone could ask a question, Monty wondered why he bothered talking about his win.\n"Tiger just went 4 down, didn't he?" he said. "It's a complete waste of time. Because if Shaun Micheel beats Tiger Woods, I will get a little column on page 38."\nEven so, he said he wasn't surprised given the nature of match play.\n"Anybody can beat anybody on any given day out here," he said. "And this is what's happening."\nAnd while Ryder Cup ramifications are pointless -- those are team matches over 18 holes -- it was a reminder that it all comes down to putting. Furyk found that out by missing his share and watching Karlsson tie a tournament record with birdies on all the par 3s in the morning round on his way to a 64.\nStill intact is Woods' streak on the PGA Tour.\nWoods won six straight PGA events at the end of 1999 and the start of 2000, and he will have a chance to match that streak in two weeks at the American Express Championship outside London.\nHe finished sixth in the 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic after the PGA Tour season ended. And while the World Match Play Championship is a European Tour event, Woods has said a loss counts the same anywhere.\nIt sure felt that way Thursday.

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