I was scared watching the first round of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. Tiger Woods looked like he was going to confuse his number one world ranking with the timing of his exit – an upsetting first-round loss to the lowest ranked player in the tournament. But, when you’re a maker of golf history, as Tiger Woods tends to be, you don’t confuse such things. Instead you tease those with lesser ability. You lure the television audience into thinking they’re seeing a historical upset, then just before it’s too late you turn it on. You light it up. You blind them with your ability.
That’s just what Tiger Woods did in his first round match against the formidable J.B. Holmes. Then he beat Aaron Oberholser 3 and 2, took two extra holes to squeak past another Aaron (Baddeley), defeated K.J. Choi 3 and 2, and disposed of the defending champion Henrik Stenson 2-up. All of the matches were close. All of the opponents gave it their best — and came up short. Two had already won on tour this year, an accomplishment possible only when Tiger Woods is not in the field.
The final match was over as soon as it started. When I woke up Sunday morning, Tiger was already two up and they’d only played four holes. The lead would only grow throughout the day until the point where Stewart Cink, eight down with seven holes to play, gave Tiger Woods a conciliatory fist-bump when Tiger’s birdie putt to tie Cink’s lipped out. Tiger closed out the match 8 and 7 on the next hole. It was the largest margin of victory in the history of the event. Only fitting that the record was set by Tiger.
With 63 PGA Tour victories, Woods has now surpassed Arnold Palmer to take fourth place alone. He’s chasing Sam Snead with 82, Jack Nicklaus with 73, and Ben Hogan with 64.