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Woods & Sorenstam win Battle at Bighorn

Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam outlasted David Duval and Karrie Webb in 19 holes to win the Battle at Bighorn, a made- for-TV event in the California desert.

Sorenstam made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to send the match to sudden death. She then lagged a 60-foot putt on the first extra hole to within two feet and Woods tapped it in for par for the victory.

The winners split $1.2 million from the $1.7 million purse. The losers shared the remaining $500,000.

The alternate-shot, match-play format featured four of the top golfers in the world. Woods, of course, is No. 1 on the men's side, while Sorenstam is the second-ranked woman in the world. Webb is ranked No. 1 on the LPGA Tour, while Duval is third on the men's side.

The foursome has also dominated the major championship scene recently, having combined to win five of the last six major titles. Webb has won two of the three majors on the women's tour this year, while Sorenstam captured the other. Woods won the Masters in April and Duval is coming off his first major triumph at the British Open eight days ago.

Despite the honors, Monday's play was not up to par, featuring plenty of wayward shots and mistakes on and around the hard and fast greens. Woods and Sorenstam were each forced to play shots lefthanded during the match, while Sorenstam once putted her ball off the green and Webb rocketed a putt some 40 feet past the hole.

Webb and Duval made a move around the turn, turning a 2-down deficit after eight holes into a 1-up lead after 11. The match was all square after 13, but Webb and Duval won the next two holes to grab a 2-up lead with three to play.

Woods and Sorenstam then won the par-three 16th hole with a par. Webb's tee shot landed toward the back of the green near the flag, but rolled all the way back to the front some 50 feet away. Duval left the birdie putt short and Webb missed the par effort.

Sorenstam had a chance to square the match at 17, but her par putt finished on the lip of the cup.

Each of the women missed the fairway with their tee shots on 18 and Duval hit his approach out of a bunker on the green but 40 feet away. Woods, however, hit a wedge from the right rough to within 10 feet and, after Webb left the birdie putt short, Sorenstam drained her birdie effort to tie the match.

The teams went back to the par-four 18th for the playoff and again Webb found the left fairway bunker with her tee shot after Sorenstam missed the fairway even farther left. Woods' second shot finished 60 feet away just off the green and Duval, out of a difficult lie in the bunker, hit his approach short of the putting surface.

Webb's pitch finished 15 feet from the hole and Sorenstam ran her putt within two feet. Duval missed the par putt and Woods calmly sank his short putt to finally end it.

The match took more than four hours to complete. Lights were placed around the course from the 14th green through the 18th hole.

The players appeared somewhat nervous on the first hole as each team made bogey to start.

Sorenstam's first shot of the match, an iron from the fairway, went well rightof pitched it four feet past the hole and, after Webb missed a five foot par putt, Woods made his putt to halve the hole.

The teams then split the next two holes.

Webb's downhill birdie putt from just off the green on the second hole rolled some 40 feet past the cup and Duval ran the par effort about three feet past. Woods, who missed the green long with his approach, made a 10-foot par putt after Sorenstam chipped from a downhill lie.

Webb atoned for her mistake on the second hole by making a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-five third after Sorenstam had missed from about the same distance on the opposite side of the cup.

Duval, after his approach at the fourth finished in the rough just left of the green, made a six-foot par save to halve the hole.

Duval's mistake at the short par-four fifth cost his team. He tried to drive the green, but hit his tee shot into a bush in the desert right of the fairway. After a penalty shot for an unplayable lie, Webb's third from the desert landed in a bunker. Woods also tried to drive the green and found the bunker just short of the putting surface, and Sorenstam chipped out to within five feet. Duval hit the team's fourth shot out of the bunker to within six feet of the cup and the hole was conceded to Woods and Sorenstam because they needed only two putts from five feet to win the hole.

The par-three sixth hole was halved with pars. Webb made a six-footer after her tee shot came up short and Duval chipped it past the hole. Woods had a chance to give his team a 2-up lead, but missed an eight-footer for birdie.

Woods and Sorenstam increased their lead at the par-five seventh. Woods hit a wedge from 55 yards to within three feet and Sorenstam made the putt for birdie after Webb's birdie chance from 10 feet missed right of the cup.

Sorenstam made a 10-foot par putt to halve the eighth hole, but she struggled over the next two holes as Webb and Duval got back into the match.

Sorenstam's approach to the par-four ninth found the bunker right of the flag and, after Woods blasted out, Webb made a 15-foot par putt and Sorenstam missed a 10-footer that left her team's lead at 1-up.

Webb and Duval hit the 10th green in regulation, but Sorenstam's wayward tee shot left her team in trouble again. The ball wound up on a hill next to a bunker and Woods had an awkward stance in the trap for his team's second shot. Instead, he set up for a lefthanded shot with the clubface turned upside-down and pulled a shot that finished at the base of a tree. Sorenstam had no choice but to punch out and Woods' fourth shot ended up in the bunker. After Webb hit her third shot to within four feet of the cup, Woods blasted out of the bunker to within six feet and conceded the hole.

The 11th hole was more of the same for Woods and Sorenstam after Woods' tee shot went left and bounced into a bush. Sorenstam set up lefthanded and knocked the ball out of the bush across the fairway. Woods' third shot finished short of the green and Sorenstam's chip rolled eight feet past the hole. Duval, meanwhile, saved Webb's short second shot with a chip to within three feet and, after Woods missed the bogey putt, he conceded the hole to give Webb and Duval the lead.

Tee shots by both women at the par-five 12th found the same fairway bunker and Duval could only manage to hit the second shot about 115 yards short of the green. Woods, however, fired his second shot right of the green and Sorenstam chipped to within 12 feet. Webb found the bunker with her team's third shot and Duval blasted out to within 10 feet. Woods missed his birdie putt, but Webb also missed her par putt, leaving the match even again.

The par-three 13th hole was halved with pars, although each of the men's tee shots found bunkers. Woods then had to make a 10-footer for par and Duval matched him with an eight-footer.

Woods and Sorenstam appeared to have the advantage at the par-four 14th, sitting 20 feet from the hole for birdie. Webb's tee shot found the fairway bunker and Duval's approach wound up in the greenside trap. Webb then blasted out to within four feet and Sorenstam rocketed her downhill birdie putt some 30 feet off the green. Woods made a nice chip to within two feet, but Duval made the par putt to win the hole and take a 1-up lead.

A birdie at the par-five 15th extended the lead for Webb and Duval. Sorenstam came up short of the green with her second shot, while Webb's approach found the green and gave Duval a 40-foot eagle chance. Woods tried to putt from just off the green and left it 20 feet short, while Duval's eagle try came up three feet short. Sorenstam missed the birdie putt, but Webb drained hers for a 2-up lead.

Woods has been involved in all three made-for-TV events, beating Duval in the Showdown at Sherwood in 1999 and losing to Sergio Garcia at Bighorn last year.

A total of $300,000 will be contributed to charity, with the players designating a portion of their winnings.

 


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