Marc Leishman’s run at the World Golf Championship matchplay event ended in the round of 16, but he was far from the only high-ranked player to leave the tournament early.
Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark has been the giant-killer at Austrin Country Club in Texas, knocking out Tiger Woods in a stunning quarter-final.
Woods did something he has rarely ever done: at the 18th hole with a putt of just inside two metres to extend the match to another hole, he missed.
Bjerregaard will play Matt Kuchar in a semi-final tomorrow morning. Open champion Francesco Molinari meets American Kevin Kisner in the other semi-final, with Molinari, the world No. 7, being the only top-10 ranked player remaining in the field.
Such are the vagaries of matchplay.
Leishman went into his match today unbeaten but promptly was overcome 2 and 1 by Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa. Oosthuizen took the lead with a birdie at the seventh and the Australian could not haul him in. They reached the par-three 17th hole where Leishman nailed a five-metre birdie to give himself a chance, but the South African followed him in to match the birdie and secure the contest.
The marquee round of 16 match was between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both former world No. 1s and multiple major champions, which Woods won with a four-metre birdie at the 17th green.
But Woods was not able to maintain his momentum. Two up through six holes of his quarter-final match against Bjerregaard, he was overrun by the Dane, who made a long eagle putt on the 16th and then birdied the 17th as well. All square going up the 18th, Woods found a greenside trap and ultimately lipped out with his par-saver putt, giving Bjerregaard the win, one-up.
“It's a shame it had to end that way because it was a really good match,’’ said the Dane, who was seeded 50th in Texas. But obviously I'm happy to be standing on the winning side."
Woods, of course, is famous for making putts when he most needs them. Not on this occasion, though. "We read it inside left, left centre, and the putt went left,” he said. “I went back and hit it again and it did the same thing. Just one of those weird spots.’’
Meanwhile Australia’s Aaron Baddeley has a great chance to win the US PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Resort championship in Dominica, sitting just two shots back from the lead through three rounds.