Date: February 23, 2008

Badds and Tiger fight out classic

Australia&aposs last three hopes at the Accenture Matchplay Championship have bowed out as Stuart Appleby, Rod Pampling and Aaron Baddeley were bundled out of the tournament on Friday (US time). American hope Justin Leonard beat Appleby three and two just twenty-four hours after Appleby produced one of his best ever performances in trouncing World No. 2 Phil Mickelson, while Vijay Singh and Rod Pampling played out an intense 25-hole battle that the Fijian eventually claimed to advance to a play-off with Leonard. Tiger Woods, meanwhile, enjoyed a couple of great escapes before living to fight another day as the world No. 1 twice came back from the brink of defeat in his third-round match against Baddeley, who missed birdie chances at the final hole of regulation, as well as the first extra hole at Dove Mountain. But the top seed was in no mood to give his opponent another chance, closing it out with a 13-foot birdie at the second extra hole to win a match of the highest quality one-up, taking off his cap barely before the ball had disappeared. “It was unbelievable how many birdies we made out there today,” said Woods, who had 12 birdies to Baddeley&aposs 10.”It was just quality shot after quality shot.” Baddeley tried to look at the positives, and it was certainly a much-improved effort from the last time they played together, in the final round at last year&aposs United States Open, where he shot 80. One of the best putters in the game, Baddeley had a 10-foot birdie chance at the par-four 18th to win, but it was downhill with a lot of break, and he did not allow enough. That miss was excusable, but he had a much better chance to put it away at the first extra hole, where he had a straight 12-footer which he missed to the left. “I hit a good putt,” Baddeley said. “I read it to go straight and hit it exactly where I wanted, and it broke left the last two feet. “I&aposm disappointed I didn&apost win because I had the opportunities, but then encouraged by the way I played, to push him into making (12) birdies.” Woods added: “The putt (at the 19th hole), I thought he was going to make. He hit a beautiful putt but it just started creeping left of the hole.” Earlier, Woods won the first two holes as Baddeley struggled, but once the Australian found his swing it was game on, as Baddeley made eight birdies in nine holes from the sixth through to the 14th to go one up with four to play. “I felt in control of the match until I lost 14 and went one down,” Woods said. “All of a sudden I had to find a way to at least get that control back.” The British challenge, meanwhile, petered out as Colin Montgomerie and Paul Casey crashed out on Friday. Montgomerie, the 59th seed, struggled to make a putt after the turn as his fairytale run ended against American Stewart Cink in their third-round match at Dove Mountain. They were all square at halfway, but Cink took the lead for good with a birdie at the par-five 10th and pulled away, rolling in a 15-footer at the 16th hole to deliver the final blow, winning emphatically four and two. Meanwhile, Casey trailed all the way, but at least made a match of it, extending KJ Choi to the very end before the Korean prevailed two-up. The only European through to the quarter-finals is defending champion Henrik Stenson, who survived another tight battle. Less than 24 hours after being taken to seven extra holes, Stenson got the job done in regulation, but only just, edging American Jonathan Byrd one-up. The Swede earned a quarter-final match against American Woody Austin, who was too good for compatriot Boo Weekley, winning four and two. In another of today&aposs matches, Angel Cabrera, the US Open champion from Argentina, used his prodigious power to give American Steve Stricker a four-and-three hiding in the World Golf Championships event.