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Tiger Woods Defeated in Match Pleay Second Round

Courtesy of the Associated Press | 3/1/2009, 11:18 a.m.

MARANA, Ariz. -- Just about everything went according to plan for Tiger Woods in his celebrated return to golf.

Except he didn't plan on leaving this early.

Woods had no complaints with his game or his knee, but he had no answer Thursday for Tim Clark of South Africa, who played 16 holes without a bogey and knocked the world's No. 1 player out of the Accenture Match Play Championship.

So where does Woods go from here?

"I go to the airport," he said

His swing looked as good as it did eight months ago when he won the U.S. Open. His knee felt so strong that when Woods discovered his tee shot into the desert on the 15th hole hit a cart path and went out of bounds -- a shot that ended any hope of a rally -- he chose to walk 350 yards back to the tee instead of accepting a ride in the cart.

"I knew I had to play out of my mind to beat him," Clark said.

And he did, pouring in six birdies and constantly putting the pressure on Woods throughout a sunny day in the high desert. Clark won, 4 and 2, when he hit his tee shot to four feet that Woods conceded for birdie after failing to chip in from off the green.

I hit it really good today," Woods said. "I just didn't make enough birdies. Tim made some birdies there, and I didn't answer him in the middle part of the round, and consequently I got behind."

Only about 100 fans remained late in the afternoon at Dove Mountain, which will surely lack the energy it had the first two days to welcome back golf's biggest star. Phil Mickelson, the No. 5 seed who survived another scare, is the highest-rated player left in a tournament that is now down to 16 players.

The good news for golf is that it probably won't have to wait eight months to see him again.

Woods will likely play in two weeks at Doral in the CA Championship, although he said he would wait to see how his left knee felt. This was his first tournament since reconstructive surgery on the knee one week after he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June.

Clark, a pesky opponent with a sharp short game, didn't give him much of a chance.

"I was really working hard to keep myself calm and try to play my own game," Clark said. "I put a lot of iron shots pretty close, and I think perhaps he wasn't expecting that or not. But I don't think I'm ever going to intimidate Tiger Woods, let's put it that way."

Clark, who has four victories around the world but is 0-for-176 on the PGA Tour, next plays a teen who might be the best hope of bringing some attention back to this World Golf Championship.

Rory McIlroy, the 19-year-old whiz kid from Northern Ireland, birdied his last two holes for a 1-up victory over Hunter Mahan. He would have been Woods' next opponent.

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