As the PGA Tour returns to Austin for its annual stop, the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play has brought some familiar faces back with it. And some new ones as well.
Tiger Woods, playing in his first Match Play event since 2013 and his first one in Austin since the tournament’s relocation in 2016, opened up his week with a 3 and 1 victory over Aaron Wise despite neither golfer playing well.
“It wasn’t like we were both playing great golf,” Woods said after his round Wednesday. “Somehow, I came out with a win.”
While Woods is no stranger to winning in the Match Play format, he has yet to play in the tournaments round-robin format which was introduced in 2015. Before that, the Match Play consisted of head-to-head knockout matches instead of group play.
“This will be a little different than what I’m used to,” Woods said Tuesday. “I really haven’t played a whole lot of match play since 2013 and I’m looking forward to it. … I just have to beat the guy standing in front of me.”
With an already exciting back nine which features three holes on the Colorado River, Woods’ debut has brought even more buzz to the tournament. So much so that even Tiger himself has noticed it.
“The guys who have played this event have said that this is one of the more exciting events with the people and then the scenarios you have on the back nine,” Woods said. “And it was like that today, it was electric on that back nine.”
Starting out double bogey on the first two holes and leading Wise by two strokes entering the ninth hole, Woods’ lost his electricity as he fell behind by one stroke after Wise won three straight. Woods found a spark on the 12th green after Wise three-putted to even up the match. Woods would go on to win four out of the next seven holes, closing out the match on 17.
Up next for Woods is close friend Brandt Snedeker, who halved his Thursday match with Patrick Cantlay. Woods and Snedeker are scheduled to tee off at 11:32 a.m.
“It’s going to be fun to play against him,” Woods said. “He’s a wonderful putter. … In this format that’s what you need to do.”