AUSTIN, Texas – Tiger Woods sent fans into a frenzy Friday with a sublime stretch of golf that left them more on Dell Technologies Match Play.
And that's what they get.
Woods won four straight holes with three birdies and an 83-yard lob wedge that spun back into the hole for an eagle, transporting him over the weekend with a 4 and 2 victory over Patrick Cantlay.
"Just got hot just when I needed it," Woods said.
It gets even better: Next for Woods is Rory McIlroy, the hottest player in golf.
McIlroy won his group by beating Matt Fitzpatrick, 4 and 2. It was not just McIlroy's third win in so many games this week at Austin Country Club, he has never dragged and has led in 37 of the 42 holes, he has played.
Woods and McIlroy have never faced others in fighting games. The last time they were squared, last year was last year at the Tour Championship, where Woods defeated his comeback season with a win.
"I just hope I made a better fight than I did in Atlanta last year," said Michelroy. "I didn't have much of a game that day. But yes, it's exciting. It's exciting for the tournament. I'm sure it'll be exciting for us. I'm good at my game. I played well all over the year. I've continued this week. So it will be exciting. "
Henrik Stenson emerged from the group of great masters by beating Jim Furyk, while Matt Kuchar made the final hole to tie Jon Rahm and win his group.
A battle dwarfed them all. Woods has not competed in Texas since 2005 and he has not been to Match Play since 2013. He had to beat Cantlay and make Aaron Wise turn off Brandt Snedeker to have any chance of moving on.
Bowl of "Go Tiger!" Often followed with "Go Aaron Wise."
Woods gave away holes with a bad flop shot behind the sixth green and a mediocre chip on # 8 to fall 2 down. Cantlay, whose tee shot at No. 9 took a hard push and slammed into the gap, still had a 1-lead before when it all went on par-3 11.
Woods holed a 20-foot birdie putt to the square the fight. Then he made a 7-foot birdie putt to take the lead.
And then it was time for a decision.
The 13th hole played only 276 meters everywhere water, a stiff breeze in them. Woods could tell that Cantlay leaned on the driver and he chose to beat iron by tee. Cantlay's drive was settled in a button over the green, 40 meters from the hole to a chance for eagles.
"I knew I needed to put it up there for at least a chance of 3, to force him to have a good pitch," Woods said.
It worked perfectly. The ball stopped approx. 5 feet behind the hole on his second bounce and gently spun back against the hole as fans in the double deck the hospitality tent behind the green rose to their feet and released the highest cheer of the day when it fell. 19659002] Woods wasn't through. He held a 20-foot birdie put on the 14th to go 3 up with four holes to play, and there was delayed bowl from every business shell along the back nine from fans watching TV.
Woods still needs help and says he did not disturb to see scoreboards to watch the Snedeker fight. It was a mismatch. Wise never trailed, was 2 on the turn and won four of the next five holes to close Snedeker.
McIlroy, coming from a victory in The Players Championship in his last start, has played so well this year that he has a chance to return to No. 1 in the world if he were to win this World Golf Championship .
He still has to win four matches starting with a big one Saturday morning.
"We've played tournaments together, fought each other down on the stretch of event, but never in a match-play situation," Woods said. "It would be fun."
Stenson simply prefers elimination to group games, one of the reasons he has skipped Match Play over the past three years. Now he is in the fold-out phase against Lucas Bjerregaard, the Dane, who won his group with Justin Thomas.
"Nothing I've done these first three days is going to do anything when we count it tomorrow," Stenson said. 19659002] In other matches:
– Marc Leishman easily dismissed Bryson DeChambeau for the 16th round for the third time in five years.
– Sergio Garcia lost his fight to Patrick Reed and still advanced.
– Branden Grace advanced out of the No 1 group with a 3-0 record, while top seed Dustin Johnson did not reach the weekend to the other