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O’Meara Tops Woods in Match Play

October 18, 1998

VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) _ Mark O’Meara captured the World Match Play Championship on Sunday, rallying from four holes down against friend and neighbor Tiger Woods to win the 36-hole final 1-up.

On the last hole, O’Meara made a 15-foot putt from just off the fringe for a birdie. Woods, awaiting his 10-footer for a birdie, rushed over to hug O’Meara.

It was the first all-U.S. final since 1975 when Hale Irwin beat Al Geiberger and only the fourth in the tournament’s 34-year history.

In this showdown between Florida neighbors on a beautiful fall day, Woods was three holes up after 18 holes, sharp on the greens and taking advantage of O’Meara’s cold putter. He raced to a four-hole lead after just six with four birdies that included a 35-footer.

``I just didn’t play very well and Tiger played better,″ said O’Meara, coming off 18 at the Wentworth Club.

He changed things in a hurry.

O’Meara, this year’s Masters and British Open champion, birdied four of the first seven holes on the second 18 _ coupled with Woods’ first bogey of the day _ to take a one-hole lead after 25.

The 34th hole was pivotal, with O’Meara taking a one-hole lead on a hole Woods should have won. O’Meara drove a few feet from the woods and then found a greenside bunker with a half-swing escape shot.

But he chipped out to 10 feet and dropped the putt to save par. Woods, in his first putting lapse all day, three-putted for a bogey from 6 feet.

Woods made a 10-footer on the 35th for a birdie, staving off O’Meara as he tapped in from 2 feet for his birdie.

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