Woods in prime form with showdown win

Winner closes out victory with par on 17 to beat Duval, 2 and 1

August 03, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- It ended on the 17th green, with darkness falling on the golf course and Tiger Woods enjoying another moment in the spotlight.

Winning a match that was both different and controversial, Woods overcame an early two-hole deficit to defeat David Duval, 2 and 1, in the Showdown at Sherwood, a match-play exhibition unlike any they play on the PGA Tour.

Neither Woods nor Duval could control what people thought of the event, nor could they control how many people watched the ABC network telecast. And while Woods earned bragging rights and $1.1 million for winning, it remained to be seen whether the event will spark a more intense rivalry between the world's two top-ranked players, who have never dueled down the stretch of a major championship.

Neither Woods nor Duval wanted to lose, of course, and with a prime-time television audience tuning in, Woods turned up his game. After losing the first two holes, Woods won four of the next six and led from that point, holding off a late rally by Duval.

Afterward, both Woods and Duval said they liked the concept, and they did not rule out the possibility of doing it again. It was the first network telecast of a golf event in prime time, and both players hoped it would fuel more interest in the sport.

"I'd like another chance to do it, because I know I can play better against him than I did today," said Duval, the world's No. 2-ranked player, who received $400,000. Both players will contribute $200,000 to charity, divided between The First Tee youth golf initiative and charities of their choice.

"I thought it was pretty cool," Duval said. "My desire is that this brings more people to the game. When Tiger turned pro in 1996, golf became cool, not a dorky game.

"I didn't know what to expect. I was a little apprehensive. But I enjoyed it."

Woods, the world's No. 1-ranked player, said his desire to participate in another event like this would depend on how it was received by the public.

"I thought the concept was great, and maybe we could do it a different way, have maybe the top four players involved," Woods said. "But a lot will depend upon the ratings and how many people were interested."

Duval started quickly at Sherwood Country Club, winning the first two holes. Duval made an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 1, and Woods then made an early mistake, losing No. 2 on a bogey when he missed a 5-foot par putt.

But Woods came back to win the par-3 third hole when Duval hit his tee shot into the front bunker, then hit a poor bunker shot that sailed 25 feet past the hole, leading to a bogey. Woods evened the match with a birdie on the par-5 No. 4, when he chipped his third shot to within 5 feet and then made the putt.

Woods took the lead for good at the par-3 No. 6, when Duval hit his tee shot into a creek, while Woods hit his 7-iron tee shot to within 8 feet of the hole. Woods then made his best putt of the day at No. 8, making a 30-footer for birdie to go 2 up.

Woods went 3 up at No. 12, making a 15-footer for birdie, before Duval rallied to win Nos. 13 and 14.

"I started slowly, but the momentum shifted, and that's one of the things I love about match play," Woods said. "When you get momentum in match play, it's like basketball. You can just ride it."

Pub Date: 8/03/99

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