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Underdog Clark sends Tiger to early exit

Somewhere in the midst of his first-round match with Retief Goosen on Wednesday, Tim Clark wondered what on earth he was doing.

He was winning.

"I had seen the bracket," Clark said. "I knew I'd probably play Tiger next if I won. I thought, do I really want to win?"

But he did, leaving himself no choice.

Much to his satisfaction, and much to the mortification of the pro golf industry, Clark won again Thursday.

Be careful what you don't wish for.

"This is obviously massive for me," said Clark, next to whom almost everything looks massive.

The 5-foot-7 South African, No. 32 in the world, borrowed some of the brilliance Woods hasn't been using since June.

He had six birdies and no bogeys, and won the match on the 16th green, 4 and 2.

The WGC-World Match Play organizers wanted more than just a hors d'oeuvre, of course.

They still have Phil Mickelson, who held off Zach Johnson.

Clark was 154th in distance and 156th in greens in regulation in '08. But he can putt, with a stick that's almost as tall as he is, and he wears out fairways. He has trouble chipping because he suffers from a condition that prevents him from rotating his palms to face upward. He can't hold the face of his wedge open.

So this is not somebody whom the Lord designed to win golf tournaments. Clark has been the underdog nearly every day of his life. Thursday was not an adjustment.

As for Woods, he plugged a tee shot into the face of a bunker on the sixth to lose that hole, lipped out on 13 to lose that, and seemed comatose on the 14th when he flew his approach into a bunker.

So, of course, he holed out, pointing grimly at the pin when it happened.

Clark's arteries began to hum.

"I remember last year, when he beat J.B. Holmes," Clark said, referring to Woods' comeback from three down with five holes left. "I thought, here we go, it's about to start now."

And then it ended.

Woods, trying to drive the par-4 15th, almost beaned Wile E. Coyote. His shot sailed past an out of bounds marker that he didn't know existed.

Clark, succumbing to the blood rush, bunkered his drive.

"I couldn't have been in a worse spot," he said. "I could have made 5 or 6 from there."

Woods trudged back to the tee and then rocketed his 330-yard drive to within 19 feet. Now a putt would halve the hole if Clark managed a par. But Clark got up and down. Woods missed, conceded the hole and the match, and got into a van to the clubhouse.

"I didn't make enough birdies," Woods said. "I caught Tim playing really well.

"I hit the ball well. I didn't have any pain, walking up and particularly down the cart paths. I felt like I hit two bad shots in two days."

Tiger actually seemed far more agitated than that, especially when he kept hanging putts on the lip.

"He must expect to make more putts than the rest of us," Clark said.

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