“MVP,” Brian Carbone shouted above the raucous cheers that came with Woods teeing off at the par-5 second hole in the Accenture Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.
Woods, as he did on Tuesday, had just one win in his last 12 appearances in this year’s tournament, a 2-and-1 loss in 2011 to Italy’s Edoardo Molinari. But it wasn’t the same old story as Woods won the second hole by sinking a one-footer for par and did not look back, going on to win two matches before fading in the elimination round.
“I would like to play better than that,” Woods said, “but it was a positive start. I played really well today, actually, with my bogey-free round.”
It’s kind of difficult to spot the highlight of a Woods victory these days given that most of his performances usually produce an eight-foot putt, unless it’s a moment like this one, when Woods sunk an 8-inch, middle-of-the-bridge 8-inch eagle putt:
WOW... Tiger Woods hit a tee shot at the second hole that had both the biggest putt of the and the biggest roar of the day pic.twitter.com/5ILUrvwdt1 — Sky Sports Golf () February 13, 2019
Eli Spieth, who birdied the final hole to win the first hole of his match against Woods and advance to the tournament’s knockout round, gave his back the first couple of putts he hit, only to come up with a clutch one with just two hole on the 18th. The round’s biggest putt, if you are into that sort of thing, was what Woods’ 2014 U.S. Open victory hero Steve Stricker described during a post-match Q&A:
“I think one of the biggest ones,” Stricker said, “was Tiger giving Steve Stricker a 24-foot, 8-inch eagle putt on 15 (in the U.S. Open), which Rickie Fowler would have shot in the mid to high 70s today and probably was probably in this field had he not got stuck with that 5-foot putt. That was a great moment for Tiger. And,” he finished, “you’ll never go wrong by telling him I said great putt.”
Among the biggest buzzers of the tournament is the claim of “NFL Hall of Famer Troy Aikman,” who made a first-round observation about a speech that Woods delivered Tuesday at the University of South Alabama.
“Golf’s been very, very good to the sport,” Woods said, “but your country, that’s been the game of it. You all have done more and done it right than anybody has, and that’s pretty amazing.”
According to Twitter, Aikman tweeted a video of Woods’ speech from his home in Tarrant County. The moment came early in the next-to-last hole of his match against Spieth and began with Aikman saying, “Let’s do this.”
It did not take Woods long to take a lead — by the time the regulation 18th began, Spieth’s lead was at six points to two. Woods ended up losing the hole by one stroke, though his day was still full of positive moments.
“I just hit some really good shots,” Woods said. “And that’s all you can ask for, hitting good shots. I’ve hit some good shots all year and given myself a lot of opportunities to win and some holes to win and to just have them going in and hanging around. And just kept fighting.”
Woods’ improved play through two rounds of his first golf event in the U.S. since September might also be attributed to a functional back after groin surgery in September. It’s hard to blame him for including it among the five greatest tournaments he’s ever played in: The Masters, British Open, U.S. Open, PGA Championship. Not to mention what happened on Sunday at Pebble Beach: