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Tiger Woods Advances in Match Play

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CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) _ Tiger Woods has been so efficient in the Match Play Championship that he has yet to play the 18th hole at La Costa. He has not made a bogey over the first two rounds and he can't find any faults in his game.

Woods has been around long enough to know what that means.

Nothing.

After posting five birdies in a 4-and-3 victory over K.J. Choi on Thursday, Woods recalled one of his trips to St. Andrews to put everything in perspective.

He played in the Dunhill Cup in 1998, in which three-man teams from each country compete in stroke play over 18 holes.

``I was 16 under for my three matches,'' Woods said. ``And my last match I shot even par and lost. (John) Daly never shot a round at par or better, and he won every single match. It's just the nature of match play.''

Next up for Woods is Stephen Leaney of Australia, the 48th seed.

That, too, means nothing.

``I know he's got a hell of a swing,'' Woods said. ``And he's had a lot of success in the past year. So, the way he's playing now ... it's going to be a great match.''

Thursday's second round was full of both _ a couple of blowouts, a couple of matches that went to the 18th hole, and a couple of wild finishes.

Defending champion Kevin Sutherland made a par on the 18th hole by playing down the first fairway, but still beat Justin Rose of England.

Phil Mickelson hit a tee shot into the hazard on No. 14, but it struck a rock and came out into the rough. He wound up holing a 35-foot putt from off the green for par on his way to a 3-and-2 victory over Brad Faxon.

David Toms was on the ropes against Chris Riley until he holed a 90-foot chip for birdie on the 18th hole by using his 3-wood.

A dream pairing between Woods-Ernie Els never materialized when the Big Easy was beaten in the first round. Just as tantalizing is Woods-Mickelson, a distinct possibility.

Mickelson, a former U.S. Amateur champion and strong Ryder Cup player, has never advanced beyond the third round.

He next plays Jerry Kelly, who advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Mike Weir.

``That's a hurdle for me,'' Mickelson said. ``I want to focus on that match and see if I can get past that.''

Don't forget about Darren Clarke. He won in 2000 by whipping Woods in the final, and the burly, cigar-smoking Clarke is looking good through two rounds after a 7-and-6 rout of Davis Love III.

Still, Woods could be tough to beat.

``If Tiger hasn't made a bogey ... that's very impressive,'' Mickelson said. ``That means you have to make a birdie to win the hole, and that's very difficult out here.''

Equally impressive was the way Woods beat Choi.

With rain pelting his hat, he hit 5-iron to 3 feet and 2 inches on consecutive holes and was never challenged the rest of the way.

``When you're playing in conditions like this, you don't want to ever give your opponent a hole,'' Woods said. ``You know if you don't make any mistakes, you're more than likely going to win the match. That's what I tried to do the last couple of days.''

In other matches Thursday:

_ Jay Haas, at 49 the oldest player in the Accenture Match Play Championship, disposed of Shigeki Maruyama. Next up is Nick Price, 46, a third-round pairing between two guys who are a combined 95 years old.

_ Scott Hoch, 47, usually complains about cold and rainy weather. He was all smiles after easily beating Padraig Harrington, 3 and 2.

``I don't think these guys are ready for the scrap heap, and neither am I,'' Haas said, referring to the 40-and-older gang.

_ Leaney had the easiest time, going 4-up after four holes _ all of them bogeys by Justin Leonard. He won, 6 and 5, and joined three other Australians in the third round. Robert Allenby, Adam Scott and Peter Lonard also advanced.

Clarke tied the tournament record with the most lopsided victory, 7 and 6, over Love.

``I got all the breaks, and Davis got none,'' Clarke said.

Love got plenty of breaks _ all of them bad.

He hit his tee shot left on the par-5 third hole, it struck a tree and ricocheted into thick rough on the side of the hill. Love never found his ball, and had to go back to the tee.

On the sixth, Love had 10 feet for birdie and was in position to change the tone of the match. Clarke, in trouble off the tee, squeezed his approach to the front of the green, chipped in for birdie and won the hole when Love missed his putt.

It never got any better for Love. He three-putted for bogey on No. 8, while Clarke's bladed chip hit the pin and stopped inches away for a par.

``That's what happens, unfortunately, in match play,'' Clarke said.
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