Woods defeated 13 seed Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 1 up in what was one of the sloppiest rounds I have seen Tiger play in this year (arguably even worse than the final round at Pebble Beach). He just scraped by in the slimmest of margins against a player who couldn't get anything together after the third hole. Woods actually started the day two down after consecutive birdies by Gonzalo, and after that it pretty much went back and forth for the rest of the match.
Not only was Tiger missing putts left and right for the match, but his swing was off as well. It seemed to me as though he was trying to play fades on every shot as he normally does nowadays but everything seemed to go straight, with many of his shots ending up left or long. On two consecutive holes Woods hit a shot into the desert, and the only real reason Tiger was able to stay in the match was that Fernandez-Castano was matching him shot-for-shot into the desert. There were quite a few holes where if one of the two just made a par they would have won it, it was that bad.
It all came down to the final hole with Woods 1 up and Gonzalo needing to win it to force a sudden death. Both players hit good tee shots but after Gonzalo hit his approach about 10 feet away for birdie Tiger did the unthinkable, hitting an iron long right into the greenside bunker, in a nearly impossible position to make par from as there was a steep downhill slope in front of him and the flag. Tiger hit a fantastic bunker shot that landed just on the fringe and ran out to about six feet. Fernandez-Castano missed his birdie putt, Tiger made his, and that was it.
Unless Tiger somehow completely turns his game around against Nick Watney in the second round, I don't see him moving on. In fact, he'll most likely lose big at 5&4 or something along those lines if he plays like he played today, so we will have to see what kind of adjustments he makes before then.
Ryan Kekoufski is a scratch golfer who has both played and watched the sport for over a decade. He covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and currently resides in Virginia.
- Tiger Woods