- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2008

From combined dispatches

MARANA, Ariz. — Tiger Woods faced another pivotal putt on the 17th hole, this one from only 12 feet, the stakes much higher yesterday afternoon than his signature 35-foot eagle putt he made three days earlier in the Match Play Championship.

Typical of his year, success was inevitable.

Woods with a putt to win is becoming like Michael Jordan taking the last shot, David Ortiz at bat in the bottom of the ninth.

“It’s fun to have opportunity, whether you succeed or fail,” he said. “Luckily over my career, I’ve succeeded more than I’ve failed.”

Call this another success, and another trip to the final.

Woods’ birdie on the 17th carried him to a 2-up victory over defending champion Henrik Stenson, putting him in the 36-hole final match against Stewart Cink, whose flawless front nine gave him a 4-and-2 victory over Justin Leonard.

“Every match is its own little battle,” Woods said, who won for the 22nd time in his last 25 matches at this fickle event. “One of the things I learned from my dad is in match play, you have 18 battles. You’ve just got to win more than they do.”

Woods’ mettle has been on display all week.

He was 3 down with five holes left when he won four straight holes against J.B. Holmes in the opening round, capped by that 35-foot eagle putt on the 17th. He had to make 12 birdies in 20 holes to outlast Aaron Baddeley. In a tight quarterfinal match against K.J Choi earlier yesterday, Woods seized momentum by chipping in for eagle.

Toledo rides the crowd

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — As the birdies piled up and his name crept up the scoreboard, Esteban Toledo saw them coming.

They weren’t just fans. They were his people.

The only Mexican left in the Mayakoba Golf Classic, Toledo embraced the attention of his countrymen and gave them plenty more to cheer. He chipped in from about 25 yards for an eagle on No. 13, then closed with a birdie on 18 — the ball seemingly pushed the final few inches by cries of “Llega! Llega!” — “Get there!”

Toledo’s 7-under 63 lifted him into fifth place. At 8-under 202, he was seven strokes behind Brian Gay going into the final round of the PGA Tour’s second visit south of the border.

“It would be the greatest thing that could happen for Mexico for me to win here,” Toledo said. “Tomorrow is going to be a tough day, but I think I can pull it off. … I’ve got to give a show to the fans. That’s the most important.”

Toledo’s challenge became a lot tougher when Gay — playing the final group — birdied his last three holes and five of the last six for a 62. At 15-under 195, Gay was five ahead of Steve Marino.

Creamer takes title

KAPOLEI, Hawaii — Paula Creamer rallied to win the Fields Open for her fifth LPGA Tour title, birdieing four of the final five holes for a one-stroke victory over South Korea’s Jeong Jang.

Playing her trademark pink ball in the final round, the 21-year-old Creamer closed with a 6-under 66 for a 16-under 200 total.

Jang, seeking a wire-to-wire victory, closed with a 69.

Michelle Wie shot a 6-over 78 to finish 20 strokes behind Creamer. At 4-over 220, Wie tied for last among the 74 players who made the cut.

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