Bradley Among High Seeds Eliminated in Ariz.
Arana, Ariz. — The snow is gone from the Match Play Championship, and so are Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley.
In a stunning conclusion to what already is a bizarre week on Dove Mountain, Shane Lowry of Ireland made a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole to eliminate Rory McIlroy in the opening round of golf’s most unpredictable tournament.
It was the third time in the last four years the No. 1 seed went home after one round.
Moments later, Charles Howell III finished off a fabulous round in cold conditions by defeating Woods on the 17th hole. Howell, who had not faced Woods in match play since losing to him in the third round of the 1996 U.S. Amateur, played bogey-free on a course that still had patches of snow and ice after being cleared yesterday morning.
The match was all square when Howell hit a wedge that stopped inches from the cup on the 15th hole for a conceded birdie. Then, he holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th and went 2 up when Woods badly missed a 12-foot birdie putt.
“I had nothing to lose,” said Howell, who started the year outside the top 100 in the world and hasn’t qualified for this World Golf Championship in five years. “In this format, match play is crazy. He’s Tiger Woods. I was lucky to hang in there.”
Bradley, the Woodstock, Vt., native and the 13th seeded, lsot to No. 52 Marcus Fraser, of Australia, 1-up.
The final matches were played in near darkness, and they could have stopped after 15 holes. Woods wanted to play on, even though Howell had the momentum. Woods was 2 under for the day, and neither of them made a bogey.
“We both played well,” Woods said. “He made a couple of more birdies than I did. He played well, and he’s advancing.”
McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, built a 2-up lead early in the match until Lowry rallied and grabbed the moment by chipping in for birdie on the par-3 12th and then ripping a fairway metal to within a few feet for a conceded eagle on the 13th.
Lowry missed a short par putt on the 14th, only for McIlroy to give away the next hole with a tee shot into the desert and a bunker shot that flew over the 15th green and into a cactus. But the two-time major champion hung tough, coming up with a clutch birdie on the 16th to stay in the game.
McIlroy nearly holed his bunker on the 18th, and Lowry followed with a steady shot out to 4 feet and calmly sank the putt.
Conn. Shooting Linked
To UConn Player’s Death
Hartford, Conn. — Hartford police have linked a recent shooting to the 2009 stabbing death of UConn football player Jasper Howard.
WVIT-TV reported police have charged 24-year-old Rasheem Grimes with assault in the Nov. 4 shooting of Hakim Muhammad. Muhammad had recently been release
d from prison after serving time on charges stemming from the fight that led to Howard’s death.
Police said Grimes is the brother of John Lomax III, the man who stabbed Howard and was upset that Muhammad had cooperated with police.
A group of football players, including Howard, squared off with Lomax, Muhammad and others after a school-sponsored dance on Oct. 18, 2009.
Prosecutors said Lomax and Muhammad went to a car and came back with knives.
Howard, of Miami, Fla., was fatally stabbed in the abdomen.