Woods takes it easy, while Toms struggles to survive
Both advanced to the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship, one of them feeling much better about his chances than the other.
Woods made short work of Stephen Leaney, winning six of the first seven holes in a ruthless display of golf that required only about two hours and ended on the 12th hole.
''It's not like I'm slapping it around,'' said Woods, who has played only 44 holes over his first three rounds. ''I'm playing some pretty solid golf.''
Toms turned in the gutsiest performance at La Costa.
Not only did he win the last two holes for a 1-up victory over Alex Cejka, there was serious doubt he could even walk to the first tee after spending four hours in the hospital overnight with food poisoning.
He ate two bananas and a piece of toast, enough to keep his legs from shaking. Adrenaline took over from there, and he holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win.
''I don't think I had anything left in me to go extra holes,'' Toms said. ''I wanted to make that putt, and I'm glad I did.''
Jay Haas, 49, didn't have to make his putt to win on the 20th hole.
Haas hit a 4-iron from 219 yards that stopped two inches from the hole, beating Nick Price in a match between two guys with a combined 51 years on tour.
''I felt like I was going to have to make birdie to win the match,'' Haas said.
In other matches:
With that, the most fickle tournament in golf is starting to take shape.
Woods (No. 1) and Toms (No. 6) are the only top-10 seeded players remaining heading into the quarterfinals Saturday morning. The semifinals will be later that afternoon.
Woods is clearly the most rested, especially after a 7-and-6 victory over Leaney. Through three rounds, Woods has yet to play the 18th hole.
He was 5-under through 12 holes and twice holed shots from off the green, including a bunker shot for eagle that caused Leaney to stare at him in disbelief. Woods could only smile and shrug.
He became the fourth player to match the tournament record for margin of victory, although none of the others looked this ruthless. He was 6 up through seven holes, about which time Leaney was looking for a white flag.
''I knew I had to be under par to win, and I wasn't even close,'' he said.
It might not have mattered.
Woods acted as if it was Sunday afternoon at a major championship, grabbing an early lead and not allowing the Aussie even the slimmest hope.
Leaney hooked his opening tee shot into the rough, hit into a water hazard and gave away the opening hole. Woods took it from there.
He holed an 18-foot putt for birdie on No. 3, then hit a 3-iron from 250 yards on the next hole that was so pure it tracked the pin like a 9-iron. Woods made that one from about 15 feet just left of the cup.
The most disheartening moment for Leaney came at No. 6, where he and Woods came up short of the green. Leaney's chip stopped one turn short of dropping for birdie. Woods' chip trickled into the cup.
Leaney turned away, knowing he had no chance.
''I think that one really hurt him a lot,'' Woods said.
The only pain Woods suffered was his only bogey of the tournament. From the front of the green on No. 9, he gunned his birdie putt some 15 feet by the hole. His par putt went 270 degrees around the cup and stayed out.
''I still have powder burns on my arms from that first putt,'' Woods said. ''It was a terrible putt.''
Next up is Hoch, a fellow member at Isleworth Country Club outside Orlando, Fla., who is in the quarterfinals for the second time in four years at the Match Play Championship.
The 47-year-old Hoch doesn't pretend to have the same skills as Woods, but don't expect him to be intimidated on the first tee, either.
''I'm going to have my work cut out for me,'' Hoch said. ''But, no, I'm not going to consider myself 3-down before I tee off. What's the worst that can happen? I lose. I've gotten further than I thought I would.''
Toms knows that all too well.
He figured his only chance to even play was to go to the hospital. At 9 a.m., about three hours before his tee time, Toms wasn't sure he could get out of bed.
''I was just trying to get through the day,'' Toms said.
He was plenty strong at the end, and kept his head in the game, too. On the 18th fairway, Cejka kept looking to see if Toms was going to lay up short of the creek on the par 5.
''I wasn't going to tell him,'' Toms said.
Cejka laid up, then hit wedge to 18 feet. Toms hit 3-wood over the creek, leaving himself an easy chip. His third shot wasn't his best, but the putt was all that mattered.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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