Fittest loser
Article updated: 9/29/2012 10:14 PM

Closing rush by Woods falls just short

Tiger Woods started slow Saturday, falling 4-down, but came on strong with 5 birdies on the back nine in his fourball match with partner Steve Stricker. They had a chance to square the match but lost on No. 18.

Tiger Woods started slow Saturday, falling 4-down, but came on strong with 5 birdies on the back nine in his fourball match with partner Steve Stricker. They had a chance to square the match but lost on No. 18.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

USA's Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker celebrate after winning the 16th hole during their fourball match Saturday at the Ryder Cup Saturday. Despite a rally, they lost their third straight match at Medinah.

USA's Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker celebrate after winning the 16th hole during their fourball match Saturday at the Ryder Cup Saturday. Despite a rally, they lost their third straight match at Medinah.

 

Associated Press

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Say this much for Tiger Woods: He can still send a lightning bolt of electricity across Medinah Country Club.

Woods, who claimed the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships at Medinah, had throngs of Ryder Cup fans going absolutely berserk Saturday afternoon as he and partner Steve Stricker clawed back from a 4-down deficit after nine holes and almost pulled out a half-point for the ages.

It wasn't to be, however, as Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald pulled out a 1-up victory, giving Stricker and Woods a third defeat in as many matches.

"I played well the last two afternoons and didn't get a point," Woods said. "It was tough. Yesterday I made a bunch of birdies and today I made 5 on the back nine and it just wasn't enough."

Captain Davis Love III decided no U.S. player would go all five matches in this Ryder Cup, and Woods said he appreciated the chance to recharge his batteries.

"It was nice to be fresh, no doubt," Woods said. "This is a long grind to go all five. I've done it before and it's hard.

"I felt great this morning, and it was nice to kind of sleep in and get a little bit of rest."

Woods, though, looked like his alarm hadn't gone off until about the 10th hole as he airmailed the green on No. 3 and hit a drive on No. 4 that was nowhere close to the fairway.

Garcia and Donald looked like they were going to run away with the match, going up 4, but then Woods birdied 10, Stricker birdied 12 and the comeback was on.

On the beastly 249-yard par-3, Woods stepped up with a 3-iron and nailed the shot to 4 feet. It was a shot befitting a World No. 1 player, even if he doesn't hold that rank anymore. He then calmly drained the putt and sent the crowd into hysterics.

By the time the group reached the 17th hole, the match had a feeling like Ali-Frazier, Tyson-Holyfield or Hearns-Leonard. The U.S. duo was 1-down and the entire grandstand on the 17th hole drowned out their European counterparts by singing the national anthem.

When it ended, Woods stepped up and sent a rocket into the fading red glare, the bomb landed 6 feet away, a roar burst into the air and Woods gave proof that he wasn't close to done.

Donald, though, had an answer, and when his ball settled to 3 feet, the Northwestern product gave a huge high-five to Garcia.

"Tiger hit it close, so I figured I better hit it close too," Donald deadpanned. "I was hoping to hole it. I had a good yardage, good club, felt very comfortable all day. I just felt good about everything that I was doing, tried to pick a line and hit it. It looked good all the way."

They both sank their birdie putts, sending the brawl to 18.

Woods' 20-foot birdie effort missed to the low side of the cup, meaning Stricker needed to hole his 6-footer to halve the match. Stricker, as he had done numerous times on the back nine, barley missed as the ball hit the edge of the cup but wouldn't fall.

"Yeah, we fought hard. Unfortunately it just wasn't enough," Woods said. "We gave ourselves two good looks on 18 and didn't get it done."

After going 0-3 on the day, Woods' overall Ryder Cup record falls to 13-17-2.

He'll have a chance to earn his first point Sunday when he plays Francesco Molinari in singles in the last match of the day at 1:04 p.m. Molinari is winless in five Ryder Cup matches.

Love explained his reasoning for putting Woods in the final group.

"We just felt like there was a group of guys that like to play pretty fast, and there's a group of guys that are more comfortable playing later in the day," Love said. "Tiger is used to teeing off at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. That's kind of his usual time on weekends. So we looked at a lot of different things."

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