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Woods secures victory on comeback

Tiger Woods
Woods overcame a front-nine wobble to defeat Jones

Tiger Woods looked as if he had never been away as he eased into the second round of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona on Wednesday.

Woods, returning after eight months out of competitive golf with a knee injury, beat Australia's Brendan Jones 3&2.

The world number one, who started with a birdie, said: "It felt good.

"I played some loose irons in the middle of the round but then got it back. I thought my knee would be a little more stiff than it was."

Woods was given a raucous welcome by supporters surrounding the first tee at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

He opened the round with a birdie and went two-up at the 2nd, where he hit his approach within four feet and Jones conceded.

Woods, who was last in action back in June when he won the US Open at Torrey Pines, bogeyed the 7th, but responded with a birdie at the next and remained two-up through 10 holes.

It was business as usual. I thought I'd be a bit more nervous than that

Tiger Woods

He stretched his lead to three when Jones bogeyed the 12th, then eagled the par-five 13th at Dove Mountain to move four clear with five to play.

Jones eagled the 15th, but Woods sealed victory when he saved par from a bunker to halve the 16th.

"I said to Stevie (Williams, his caddie), 'It feels like we haven't been gone.' It was business as usual," added Woods.

"I thought it would take me a little bit longer to get into the rhythm of the round but I came out as if I had it.

"I thought I'd be a little more nervous than that but when it comes right down to it it's about placement so I just kind of went back to all the basics."

Open and US PGA champion Padraig Harrington was an early casualty as the top seed in his bracket was defeated one-up by American Pat Perez.

"I lost it on the 5th hole," said Harrington. "I missed a putt there and made a terrible five from the middle of the fairway when he was in trouble.

"To go bogey-bogey there and let him go one-up when I could have been one-up...when I look back everything after that was a bit of a struggle."

Sergio Garcia was another big name to make an exit, with South Africa's Charl Schwartzel defeating the Spaniard one-up.

Justin Rose also suffered a first-round defeat with American Boo Weekley defeating the Englishman one-up.

Earlier, Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy defeated South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen 2&1 in his first outing as a professional in the United States.

The Dubai Desert Classic winner now faces US Ryder Cup star Hunter Mahan in the second round with Woods a potential opponent in round three.

Lee Westwood, one of 20 Europeans in the 64-man field, set up a second-round meeting with Stewart Cink after a 2&1 win over Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng.

Anthony Kim will play Ryder Cup foe Oliver Wilson after the American strolled to a 7&5 victory over Taiwan's Lin Wen-Tang.

Wilson wrapped up a 3&1 win over KJ Choi.

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The Englishman moved to two up with a birdie at the 13th and completed victory when the Korean bogeyed the 17th.

Wilson said: "It is not a good draw getting KJ. It was always going to be tough. He is a solid player tee to green and you are certainly not going to get him riled or anything and beat him mentally."

Fiji's Vijay Singh advanced with a 2&1 win over Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen while Phil Mickelson, drawn in Singh's quarter, beat Angel Cabrera after 19 holes.

Westwood, in the Ben Hogan bracket of the draw alongside top seed Singh and Mickelson, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and last year's beaten finalist Cink, had raced into a three-hole lead after seven before the Thai won his first hole at the 8th.

Westwood lost again at the 15th but regained his two-hole lead at the next before sealing victory with a half at the 17th.

"I did play well," he said. "I was five under par and could have been a little better than that but Prayad played well and hung in there all day and started to come back at me on the back nine.

"I hit a great shot into 16 which sort of closed the game out - an eight iron to 18 inches which put me two up with two to play and I managed to halve 17."

Also through, Miguel Angel Jimenez sealed a second-round date with Colombia's Camilo Villegas by completing a 2&1 win over South Africa's Rory Sabbatini.

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see also
Match Play results
26 Feb 09 |  Golf
Tiger back in the groove
26 Feb 09 |  Golf
Tiger back on the prowl
25 Feb 09 |  Golf


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