It was a back-and-forth battle between Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III on Day 2 of the 2013 Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday, but Howell distanced himself down the stretch to shock the world No. 2 at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., 2 up.
Tiger Woods didn't play poorly on the first four holes, but he didn't distance himself, either. In fact, Howell made a tremendous 22-foot birdie putt on hole No. 2 to go 1 up on Tiger.
But Tiger bounced back on the fifth hole, knocking down a 19-foot birdie putt to make it all square in the early going.
On the next two holes, both Woods and Howell parred.
But Howell came surging back on hole No. 8, scoring a birdie to go 1 up again and put pressure on Woods to make a move on the final hole of the front nine. Tiger simply parred on hole No. 9, and Howell parred in turn. The 33-year-old from Orlando had the lead with nine holes remaining.
Woods had an opportunity to grab the lead at the 10th hole, but he missed a 12-foot putt and he still found himself trailing with eight holes remaining.
Tiger bounced back after that, though, making a seven-foot birdie putt to make it all square at hole No. 13. It was shaping up to be a thrilling finish at Dove Mountain.
It was Howell who roared back on hole No. 15, hitting a fantastic approach shot that landed feet from the hole. His following putt dropped in and he was leading, 1 up.
Howell did it again at hole No. 16, scoring a birdie and going 2 up on Tiger. He could smell victory.
At hole No. 17, Woods wasn't able to do enough to make up ground and the match ended with a thud for the world No. 2.
Howell came into the Accenture Match Play Championship with three top-10 finishes in his first five PGA Tour events of 2013. He lost in a playoff at the Humana Challenge in January.
On the other hand, he missed the cut at the Northern Trust Open and he was ranked No. 66 in the world before heading to Dove Mountain. He hadn't played in the Accenture Match Play Championship since 2008.
Woods headed into Marana after winning his first and only PGA Tour event of the year, the Farmers Insurance Open. The No. 2 player in the world fell in the Round of 32 at the Accenture Match Play Championship last year, but has posted three victories and one second-place finish in the event for his career.
Howell got off to a strong start with a birdie on hole No. 2 to take the lead.
Not to be outdone, Woods bounced back on hole No. 5 with an impressive birdie putt.
A simple 22-foot putt wasn't enough. Howell had to sink a 27-footer to be satisfied on hole No. 8. The putt put pressure on Tiger.
Woods nailed a seven-foot putt a hole No. 13 to make it all square and to return the favor by placing the pressure back on Howell's shoulders.
But after a birdie to take the lead on the 15th hole, Howell sunk another fantastic putt on hole No. 16, this time from 23 feet away. The veteran simply had it going on Thursday.