A winning streak that carried an asterisk ended because of a ball mark.
Tiger Woods stared only at the 4-foot path from his ball to the cup, a birdie putt on the first extra hole that would allow him to escape with an improbable comeback Friday against Nick O’Hern in the Accenture Match Play Championship at Marana, Ariz., and take another step toward his eighth consecutive PGA Tour victory.
O’Hern figured the match was over.
“I wasn’t watching, to be honest with you” O’Hern said. “I was just waiting for the sound of ball going into hole.”
Only after Woods struck his putt did he notice the ball mark he neglected to repair, which he said caused the ball to bump slightly off line to the right and slide by the cup. One hole later, O’Hern made a 12-foot par putt that sent Woods home without a trophy on the PGA Tour for the first in more than seven months.
Woods is such a master of the minutiae that when he arrived Monday afternoon at The Gallery, he fretted over a new putter grip being off by the tiniest fraction. Four days later, he failed to fix a ball mark that cost him dearly.
“I was so enthralled with the line, I didn’t see the ball mark,” Woods said. “I knew if I hit it left-center, the match would be over. It’s my fault for not paying attention to detail.”
So ended the second-longest winning streak on the PGA Tour, returning Byron Nelson’s record of 11 straight PGA Tour victories to “untouchable” status and making Woods start over next month at Bay Hill.
The streak was always subject to debate. Some thought it should carry an asterisk, for his winning streak ended at five when he lost in the first round of the World Match Play Championship on the European tour last September, and Woods had since failed to win three other times outside the PGA Tour.
It was this fickle format that stopped him again.
And it was a familiar foe.
O’Hern became the first player to beat Woods twice in match play as a professional. The short-hitting lefty from Australia also beat him in the second round two years ago at La Costa, and in both matches, O’Hern never trailed a single hole.
“To beat him once was an amazing thrill,” O’Hern said. “I’m sure he wanted to even the score today. I just knew if I played well and played solidly, I could do it again.”
For Woods, it was the end of a winning streak that began at the British Open and ended in the high desert north of Tucson with an outpouring of disgust.
“It’s not the streak,” Woods said. “It’s the fact that I’m disappointed I didn’t pay attention to detail, something so simple.”
•The father of PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has died. Harold Finchem died in his sleep Sunday in Virginia Beach, Va. He was 88.
Boo Weekley followed his opening 6-under-par 64 – the best round of his PGA Tour career – with a 67 to move him into a three-way tie for first place midway through the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Fred Funk, the first-round leader after a 62, had a 69 to match Weekley and Cameron Beckman (67) at 9-under 131.
Bobby Wadkins shot an 8-under 64 on to take a one-stroke lead over Champions Tour newcomer Mark O’Meara, Allen Doyle and Gil Morgan after the first round of The ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla.
Wadkins, who won The Boeing Championship and Ford Senior Players last year, had two eagles, five birdies and one bogey on the Quail West Golf and Country Club course.
Stacy Prammanasudh shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead in the suspended second round of the Fields Open in Kapolei, Hawaii.
Prammanasudh was at 10-under 134 and was being chased by a pack of youngsters, including two teenagers hoping to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history.
Rookie Angela Park was at 9 under with nine holes left when play was halted because of darkness, following a three-hour rain delay earlier in the day. The 18-year-old Park was among 70 players who will have to finish their rounds early today.
Morgan Pressel, also 18, shot a 65 and was at 8 under, along with 21-year-old Jee Young Lee, who had five holes left.
Wendy Ward of Edwall, Wash., and former Rathdrum resident Tracy Hanson did not complete their rounds, but were both 2 over.