March 28, 2019: Tiger Woods walked off Austin Country Club glad he did not have to record a stroke play score.
The three-time champion returned to the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play for the first time in six years as a winner… but it wasn’t exactly pretty.
The 80-time PGA TOUR winner was far from crisp in his match against PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Aaron Wise, but prevailed 3 and 1 in a scrappy affair.
Despite having just four birdies in his 17 holes with four bogeys, Woods outlasted a wayward Wise.
The 22-year-old had more birdies than his illustrious opponent with six, but also carded seven bogeys and a double bogey to fall to the three-time event champion.
“The way we were playing today, we’re very thankful it’s not stroke play… I broke 80,” a relieved Woods joked afterward.
“I won the match. It wasn’t exactly the best of golf out there from both of us. We gave a few holes away with bogeys and three-putts, and we won a few holes with some good birdies. It was an emotional round because there weren’t a lot of halved holes.”
Wise admitted his first ever round with one of his idols had him a little nervous during the first couple of holes, but stopped short of saying it contributed to his wayward play.
The former NCAA champion and winner of last season’s AT&T Byron Nelson actually turned an early two-hole deficit to a 1-up lead through 10 holes, but was unable to hold firm.
Four bogeys in his last five holes sealed his fate.
“I don’t think either of us played as good as we wanted to, but he played a little bit better than me and got the win.”
While bummed with the loss Wise said he will take plenty away from the experience of going head to head with one of the greatest of all time.
“It was pretty cool to get in his group today, be able to play him, especially in match play, where it’s me against him. It was a fun experience,” Wise said.
“I really respect what he’s done in the game, and it was pretty cool to be able to watch him compete today and be alongside of him.”
The 13th seeded Woods takes on 44th seed Brandt Snedeker on Thursday as he seeks to advance from the group. Snedeker halved his match with Patrick Cantlay thanks to a clutch birdie on the 18th hole.
Source: PGA Tour
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