Tiger Woods Advances to Quarters in U.S. Amateur
CORNELIUS, Ore. (AP) _ Tiger Woods got all that he could handle on the second day of match play in the U.S. Amateur Championship, but he was simply too good for a 37-year-old veteran and a 17-year-old up-and-comer.
It’s looking more and more like Woods might be too good for anyone here and will walk away with his unprecedented third consecutive Amateur title. Even when not at his best, he’s simply too good.
Woods won his second-round match 4-and-2 over Jerry Courville on Thursday, breaking open an even contest by winning three consecutive holes beginning at No. 12.
Then Woods advanced to the quarterfinals in the afternoon with a 3-and-1 victory over Charles Howell. The 17-year-old from Augusta, Ga. _ home of the Masters _ was the first of Woods’ 19 opponents in U.S. Amateur competition who was younger than Woods.
In both matches, Woods simply wore down opponents with one titanic tee shot after another, routinely driving the ball more than 320 yards and hitting short irons to greens while his playing partners hit long irons.
For Woods, who is now 17-2 in the U.S. Amateur, three was the magic number.
He needs three more victories to get his third consecutive U.S. Amateur Championship. And in all three of his matches this week he turned it around on No. 8.
``I feel very positive with the way I’m hitting it,″ Woods said. ``I’m putting much better and I’m managing my game very well.″
Woods faces D.A. Points, a 19-year-old LSU student, in the quarterfinals. Points defeated Randy Leen 3-and-2 to advance.
Also advancing to the final eight was Joel Kribel, who defeated Paul Simson 4-and-3. Robert Floyd, son of Raymond Floyd, moved on by winning 1-up over Jason Enloe. Duke Delcher won in 19 holes over Richard Barbles and Steve Scott defeated Kelly Miller 3-and-2.
Buddy Marucci, who lost to Woods in last year’s finals and could face him in the finals again this year, defeated Eric Moehling 4-and-2. Bryan Novoa downed Chris Wollmann 1-up.
Delcher at 40 and Marucci at 44 are the only quarterfinalists who could make Woods feel like a kid. Points, Kribel and Scott are 19, Floyd is 20 and Novoa 21.
Woods got off to a slow start on the dew-covered Witch Hollow course at Pumpkin Ridge at 7:15 a.m. He bogeyed three of the first seven holes and was 1-down to Courville when he rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8 to even the match.
He followed that with a 343-yard drive on No. 9 and a 353-yard drive on No. 11.
The key came on the 12th hole when the match was still tied. Woods missed the green right but Courville followed by hitting left into the water on the par-3.
That started a run of three consecutive holes won by Woods and Courville conceded the match on No. 16.
``No. 8 was the turning point, just like it was yesterday,″ Woods said. ``I finally settled down and got my tempo after the first seven holes. That was the first good putt I hit.″
Courville missed six of the first seven greens and he and Woods halved three holes with bogeys in that stretch.
``I let a good opportunity slip away on the front nine,″ Courville said.
Howell, a 130-pound high school senior whose baby face could barely be seen behind his glasses and ``No Fear″ hat pulled down tight over his sandy hair, knocked it to 4 feet on the first hole but missed the birdie putt and lost the next hole to Woods’ birdie.
But as he stepped to the eighth tee he found himself even with Woods, thanks to a ball Woods slapped into the water on No. 6.
For the third consecutive match Woods won the eighth hole. Making birdie against J.D. Manning and Courville, all Woods needed this time was a par after Howell snap-hooked his drive into a tree.
Again, it pumped up Woods. He drove 350 yards on No. 9 and hit it 313 into the wind on No. 11 and then hit a 2-iron 235 yards into the wind and onto the green.
Woods got to 2-up when Howell bogeyed No. 12 from the bunker and went to 3-up with a 12-foot birdie on No. 13. Howell got one back when Woods hit his approach into the water on No. 14. But the match was closed out on No. 17 when Howell missed the fairway left and hit into a greenside bunker while Woods was hitting his approach to 4 feet.
Howell conceded the hole and the match.
``Well, I didn’t lose 10-and-8 so I’m happy,″ Howell said. ``I knew I would have to play real, real good to beat him and I didn’t play good enough to beat Tiger Woods.″
The question now is if anyone can play well enough to beat Tiger Woods. No one has for three years.
CHIP SHOTS: As usual, Woods was followed by his father Earl and his mother Kultida. Kultida walks inside the gallery ropes with the players while Earl walks with the crowds. ``He walks too slow,″ Kultida said, adding with a huge smile: ``Remember, I taught Tiger everything he knows.″ ... Back in the Woods’ gallery Thursday after a one-day absence was Nike CEO Phil Knight. ... Charles Howell has every shot to be a force in the future. ``He’s always been a tough competitor, ″ said Howell’s father, also named Charles. ``He has a good game and I paid plenty for it,″ the pediatric surgeon said jokingly about his son’s golf lessons. ... Howell proved toughness in the Amateur. He won his first match in 24 holes, coming back from 2-down with two to play. Then he won his second round match 1-up, making a birdie out of the bunker on the last hole.