MARANA, Ariz. — Tiger Woods made 12 birdies in 20 holes and needed every one of them Friday in a brilliant duel with Aaron Baddeley that sent the world’s No. 1 player into the quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Rarely has Woods played at such a high level, only to have another player match him step for step, birdie for birdie.
Baddeley, who shot 80 in the final round of the U.S. Open the last he played alone with Woods, was 1 up with three holes to play and twice had putts to end the match. A tough, 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole broke sharply below the hole, and Baddeley’s 12-foot eagle putt on the 19th hole burned the left edge of the cup, giving Woods new life.
Woods’ final birdie was from 13 feet, and it was good all the way. He removed his cap when the ball was still a foot away from dropping, and he looked relieved after winning his longest match in his nine years at this tense tournament.
“It was quality shot after quality shot,” Woods said. “Matches like that are fun to be a part of.”
Baddeley made 10 birdies, including five in a row to start the back nine, one of them conceded from 12 feet when Woods’ tee shot plunked a marshal on the head and went into the sagebrush of the Dove Mountain desert.
What the Australian needed was an eagle on the 19th hole. Instead, he became the latest victim to Woods, who has twice produced late rallies in his bid to continue a streak of victories dating to early September.
“I played great, you know?” Baddeley said. “I made him have to win it.”
Woods advanced to the quarterfinals for the fifth time in nine years. He will face K.J. Choi, a 1-up winner over Paul Casey.
Typical of this tournament, those two matches could not have been any more different.
Choi birdied the first three holes to build a big lead and was 3-up through seven holes after making an eagle. But he closed with 11 straight pars to outlast Casey.
The Americans, who started the tournament with a record-low 20 players, now have one player still remaining in each of the four brackets.
Woody Austin easily handled Boo Weekley, 3 and 2, to advance to play defending champion Henrik Stenson, who hung on to beat Jonathan Byrd. Stenson won his ninth straight match, the third-longest streak in the Match Play Championship.
Stewart Cink took advantage of sloppy play by Colin Montgomerie to deny the Scot valuable world ranking points, winning 4 and 2. Cink will play U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, who made six birdies on the front nine and beat Steve Stricker, 4 and 3.