Woods bows out of Match Play

Tiger Woods said he had plenty to be pleased about, despite a premature exit from the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship.

Tiger Woods takes a sand bunker shot during the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, on Feb 26 2009.
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Tiger Woods said he had plenty to be pleased about on Thursday, despite a premature exit from the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. Speaking yesterday, he said: "I'm very pleased, actually, with the way I hit the golf ball. I didn't make enough birdies today. "I made some yesterday, I just didn't make enough today. But I hit the ball well the last two days and that's encouraging." South African Tim Clark, ranked 33rd in the world, ousted Woods 4 and 2 in the second round of the elite World Golf Championships event.

His steady play ? including six birdies with no bogeys over the 16 holes ? brought a swift end to Woods's first tournament in eight months, stretching back to the American's US Open triumph at Torrey Pines in June. In the wake of that victory, Woods had reconstructive surgery on his left knee, the rehabilitation period leading to the longest layoff of his professional career. Woods, whose wife gave birth to his son Charlie this month, returned amid a blaze of publicity on Wednesday, posting a 3 and 2 victory over Australian Brendan Jones.

Just how well his left leg held up over his two matches was another positive for Woods, even if his departure was deflating for all those who breathlessly awaited his return. "The way my leg feels after walking, and especially on this golf course going up and down the cart paths, especially down the cart paths, my leg feels pretty good," he said. "No pain at all," he added. "Zero." The 14-time major champion might also be pleased to know that his rivals still regard him warily ? even when they've just beaten him.

Pressed to evaluate Woods's game, Clark was reluctant. "I did feel like he hit some pretty good shots when he needed to," Clark said. "He certainly seems to be swinging at it pretty good." Further than that, Clark flatly refused to go. "I would hate to comment on that," he said. "I don't want to get him angry for the next time I play him, so I'm going to leave that one alone." Woods said he knew when he decided to defend his title here that the knockout nature of the format could spell an early end to his campaign.

"You can play well and go home," he said. "That is the nature of match play. You can play well and go home, and you can play poorly and advance. "I just happened to catch Tim playing really well, and I didn't make enough birdies to answer him." Woods said he hadn't yet decided where he would play next. Two Florida tournaments in March ? the WGC CA Championship at Doral and Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Invitational ? seem likely prospects as Woods prepares for the Masters on April 9 ? 12.

"I don't know yet," Woods said. *AFP