Valspar Championship

Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course)

The Loop

The "Kitchen" is on fire

February 23, 2008

MARANA, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods calls Stewart Cink "Kitchen" and he'll be hoping he doesn't throw it at him in the finals of the WGC-Accenture World Match Play the way he did in the semis against Justin Leonard. All Cink did was go out in a little six-under-par 29, build a huge lead and coast to a 4-and-2 win into a Sunday meeting against Woods, who beat defending champion Henrik Stenson, 2 up.

"Boy, it was a hot start," said Cink, who distinguished himself both in the most recent Presidents and Ryder Cups, beating Nick O'Hern in singles in one and Sergio Garcia in the other. "I felt like everything was going in and it was, pretty much. You know, when you get off to a start like that, sometimes you almost find yourself in a position where you don't really know what to do. I think I ran out of gas a little bit. Good thing I had a big cushion because I was leaking a little oil."

Woods' 2 up victory over Stenson, who had won 10 straight in the Accenture Match Play, was a methodical, if somewhat pedestrian match, with both players making birdies on the holes they were supposed to birdie and avoiding mistakes everywhere else. Stenson grabbed a bit of momentum on the 13th when he rescued a par after driving it left deep into the desert. He got all square in the match with a birdie on the 16th, but Woods came right back on the par-5 17th, getting up and down from the greenside bunker for a winning birdie of his own while Stenson couldn't reach the green after driving into the right rough.

"I felt like I was in control of the match all day," said Woods. "I was up early and even though we got all square, he never took the lead." Even on the 17th tee, Woods still felt in control. "We're both long hitters and I've been in that position before. I've played umpteen more matches than he has. I've seen it all and nothing really surprises me out there." Against Cink, Woods will be seeking his third straight title in '08, his sixth straight worldwide (dating back to the BMW Championship last fall) and 15th World Golf Championship title.

And, in the Gone But Not Forgotten category:

Good Monty: It was Good Monty rather than Petulant Monty on the premises all week. He was clever, witty and candid talking about his pending marriage, wanting desperately to get into the Masters and even doing a little not-so-tongue-in-cheek lobbying of European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo in the television booth. Warming up next to Boo Weekley before their third round matches (both of which were lost), the American had Monty laughing so hard he could barely pull a wedge back. Seems Boo got in a little fender-bender leaving the course the night before. Montgomerie was a witness to the scene but was just that morning getting the whole story, country-style. At one point he turned to his caddie and said, "Can I take him home with me?"

The Tank: On the 15th hole in their morning semifinal match, K.J. Choi stuck his approach four feet from the hole in an attempt to close in on Woods -- only to have Tiger hole out first from 31 feet. As he was walking off the green, Choi's caddie, Andy Prodger, said, "The magician has done it to us again."

The Desert: Adios. In the desert, all the plants want to hurt you. After tomorrow it's time to go east young men, which means Bermuda grass, warm weather and Augusta on the horizon.

--Jim Moriarty