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Accenture Match Play Championship

Match Play narrows to 7 familiar faces ... and some guy named Jaidee

Thongchai Jaidee, ranked No. 50 in the world, sent Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa packing with a decisive 5 & 4 victory

The Accenture Match Play Championship narrowed to eight players Friday, leaving a set of semifinalists peppered with familiar and unfamiliar names.

Sergio Garcia is still in the field, as are Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Camilo Villegas. But those names are joined by Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand.

Thongchai who?

That's Jaidee, and he was ranked No. 50 coming into the tournament. The Thai star beat Japanese teen Ryo Ishikawa handily on Friday. Ishikawa, at 18 the youngest player in the field, missed a birdie putt on No. 14 that would have extended the match.

Jaidee won with a decisive 5 and 4 score on just two birdies.

"I played a very good game plan today. He didn't play well," Jaidee told the media in broken ENglish after his match. ""He got only one birdie today on, I think 13. He didn't play well. He had a lot of trouble, because match play not easy to tell who going to be to win."

Paul Casey made a par putt on No. 14 to end his Friday match early. Casey, ranked No. 8 coming into the tournament, remains the highest seed left after dispatching American Brian Gay 5 and 4.

The Englishman – one of three remaining – fell behind by the third hole, but came back for a 5 and 4 win.

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"I made some birdies, clawed it back, and I was surprised it turned around that quickly," Casey said.

Sergio Garcia of Spain took his match to No. 17, where he sank a birdie putt to send Tim Clark of South Africa home. Clark had a tough time from the start Friday, carding just two birdies.

"As this course firms up, it's extremely hard for me. I just never felt like I had many birdie chances," he said after the match.

Garcia has never made it past Friday in nine Match Play qualifications.

"First time, so I couldn't be happier. It's very much, like I said, from the first day, they're all difficult. But as you get on, every match gets tougher," said Garcia, who was ranked No. 15 coming into the week.

Garcia plays Oliver Wilson of England, who took his match against fellow Brit Luke Donald to 20 holes before winning on an eagle putt.

Tigermania

The golf word erupted in a frenzy of Tigermania earlier Friday, when the world's best golfer stood at a lectern and apologized for cheating on his wife. Ripples extended all the way to Dove Mountain in Marana.

The statement, aired live from Florida, was perhaps more notable for what didn't happen than what did.
Woods did not mention when he might return to golf. He did not talk about his relationship with his wife, Elin, who was not by his side, and he did not offer any details about his affairs or therapy.

"I recognize I have brought this on myself, and I know above all I am the one who needs to change. I owe it to my family to become a better person. I owe it to those closest to me to become a better man. That's where my focus will be," Woods said.

There was no mention of when the world's top-ranked golfer and top gallery and TV audience draw might return to the game.

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"I don't rule out that it will be this year," he said.

Woods also did not offer details on his affairs or discuss whether he and his wife will stay together. There have been reports that she had moved out of their home after the news of the affairs broke.

"These are issues between a husband and a wife," he said.

The PGA media machine was in full swing, issuing statements from golfers in Marana for the Accenture Match Play Championship. Some offered comments, and some didn't.

Stewart Cink, who listened to part of the statement while getting ready for play at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, seemed sympathetic.

"I was moved by how difficult it seemed to be for him. But its a big part of the process to go through that difficulty and to face up to what's happened. And especially the hurt that other people are feeling, his friends and family. So, from that point of view, I think it was a very important step for him to take," Cink said at the Ritz clubhouse.

Ben Crane, also speaking briefly at the clubhouse, offered a Biblical tale in support of Woods. In John 8:7, when a crowd wants to stone a woman for sinning, Jesus agreed, then said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

"I think Tiger was very humble. And you know what? I think we all love him as a golfer and as a family man. And we want to see what's best for him," Crane said.

Camillo Villegas issued a brief statement Thursday, when the Woods 'news conference' was announced. He seemed unimpressed by the hubbub.

"Who?" the Colombian said facetiously.

Golf is under way at Dove Mountain. The field was narrowed Thursday to 16 golfers, who will compete in eight matches Friday. Friday's matches:

Saturday's quarterfinal matches

  • Oliver WIlson (England) vs. Sergio Garcia (Spain)
  • Paul Casey (England) vs. Stewart Cink (USA)
  • Thingchai Jaidee (Thailand) vs. Ian Poulter (England)
  • Retief Goosen (South Africa) vs. Camillo Villegas (Colombia)

Woods' statement

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B. Poole/TucsonSentinel.com

Luke Donald sizes up a putt. Donald lost to fellow Englishman Oliver Wilson.