Watch CBSN Live

Tiger Faces Big Hurdle At Match Play

Tiger Woods has compiled some amazing numbers during the longest PGA Tour winning streak in 62 years. He has won those seven tournaments by a combined 22 shots, is 109 under par and has posted 24 of his last 28 rounds in the 60s.

The math is much more simple at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

To make it eight in a row, he has to win six in a row.

"This has always been one of the tougher events to win just because of the nature of the format," Woods, the No. 1 seed, said Tuesday. "Match play, anything that happens is unpredictable. Sometimes, it takes a great round to advance. Sometimes, you can shoot over par and advance. All I know is you have to beat one guy at a time. You don't have to beat a whole field. Just six guys."

The 64-man field assembled in the high desert of The Gallery Golf Club represents the best in the world from 17 countries. The only guy Woods cares about Wednesday is Ryder Cup teammate J.J. Henry, his first opponent.

How fickle is this tournament?

Woods won in 2004 during his worst season on tour, when he went through another overhaul of his swing. He was in top form two years earlier, winning the Masters and U.S. Open, yet he couldn't get past Peter O'Malley in the first round of the Accenture.

"You can shoot 65 and lose. You can shoot 73 and win," Henry said. "You never know what you're going to get. Of course, I know if I play Tiger and shoot 73, I might as well pack my bags."

Henry is fortunate to even be in the field.

He was expecting to be the first alternate until Charl Schwartzel of South Africa decided to withdraw on Sunday and play at home in Telkom PGA Championship on the Sunshine Tour, where he has a chance to win the Order of Merit.

Jim Furyk is the No. 2 seed and will play Brett Quigley. Third-seeded Adam Scott faces Shaun Micheel, and Phil Mickelson has the No. 4 seed and will play fellow lefty Richard Green of Australia.

The most compelling matches feature Ryder Cup teammates _ Sergio Garcia against Darren Clarke in one match, Padraig Harrington against Lee Westwood in another. And in a reminder that anything goes in this event, Geoff Ogilvy plays Steve Stricker in a match of past champions who were seeded No. 55 (Ogilvy) and No. 52 (Stricker) when they won.

Woods is a pro at match play, even though most of his success came as an amateur.

He learned as a teenager how frustrating this format can be, taking on a kid named James Mohan in the Southern California Junior Match Play. Woods said he shot 69 that day, posted the lower score and got eliminated.

"I didn't quite understand that," he said. "I just came home and told Dad, 'I shot a better score than he did, but he won the match. That doesn't seem right.' He explained it to me. We went out the next couple of days and played match play."

After that, it was rare when Woods didn't win.

He captured three straight U.S. Junior Amateur titles, followed by three straight U.S. Amateurs. His record at the Accenture is 23-5, and his singles record in match play including exhibitions is 36-11-2. Someone once asked Woods why his record in match play was so much better as an amateur, and his answer was telling.

"The field," he replied.

Jack Nicklaus believes Woods' amateur record is what has carried him to 53 stroke-play titles, including 12 majors.

"Each day is a tournament in match play," Nicklaus said. "And you've got to finish that day if you want to go to the next day."

Nicklaus also is proud of his match play record. The only match he says he lost in 1959 was the quarterfinals of the British Masters. He lost two matches in 1960, and only one in 1961.

"As a result, I was a lot tougher when I got to the tour and got to medal play," Nicklaus said. "When I had to finish a tournament, I was able to finish it. Tiger's record as an amateur was fantastic. He knew how to finish as a kid, and when he got ere, he didn't have to go through that. Absolutely, that was no coincidence."

For all the lore over Woods' record in match play, he might be tougher to beat over 72 holes of stroke play. Furyk was asked whether he would rather face Woods in an 18-hole match or 18 holes of stroke play.

It took him a while to find the answer before he drew one obvious conclusion.

"I guess the point there would be it's not really a good scenario either way," Furyk said.

After some more thought, he chose match play because "it's a little bit more volatile."

The streak is volatile by its sheer nature.

Woods was reminded that this streak only applies to PGA Tour events during a practice round Monday when he caught up with Shaun Micheel, who beat him in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship last September on the European Tour, ending his winning streak worldwide at five tournaments. Also in the field this week is Yong-Eun Yang and Harrington, who beat him in consecutive weeks in Asia. Henrik Stenson is here. He beat Woods last month in Dubai.

Considering this World Golf Championship is sanctioned by every major tour in the world, maybe he's really on a losing streak.

Whatever the case, it won't be easy getting to No. 8 on the PGA Tour.

"He's a great match player," Ogilvy said. "But over 18 holes, it doesn't take much for someone to come up with something good."