On This Day

On This Day: February 22, 2008

Aaron Baddeley (Photo: Bruce Young)
Match play’s popularity is due in large part to the strategy it evokes within players, but it’s also valued for its ability to bring out a golfer’s most aggressive traits.

The battle between Tiger Woods and Australia’s Aaron Baddeley on February 22, 2008 in the third round of the World Golf Championships-Match Play was a clash fit for the final with 20 holes needed to decide the winner in one of the most enthralling displays of match play golf in recent memory.

Between them, Woods and Baddeley reeled off the equivalent of 22 birdies in 20 holes.

And it should have been the Victorian who prevailed; Baddeley wasted putts for the win on two holes; from 10 feet for birdie on the 18th and a 12-foot eagle putt on the 19th that burned the left side of the cup.

Woods - who was in the midst of a six-tournament winning streak dating back to August 2007 - displayed his signature killer instinct at the 20th hole, removing his cap moments before his mid-range birdie putt for the win went down.

It was Woods in his absolute prime and Baddeley pushing the 14-time major winner near his limit.

"I birdied, he birdied. He birdied, I birdied," Woods said after the match. "It was unbelievable how many birdies we made out there today."

Woods also said the only other match he’d been a part of that was of such a high quality was his loss to Mark O’Meara in the final of the 1998 World Match Play Championship at Wentworth in England.

Baddeley’s performance was made more impressive because the previous time he’d played with Woods was in the final round of the 2007 US Open at Oakmont when he began the day with a two-shot and ended it with an 80 to fall outside the top-10.

Since then, Baddeley has won twice in the US to take his list of worldwide victories to eight and reached a career-high world ranking of 16. 

Many may still consider Baddeley to be an under-achiever but his epic duel with Woods in early 2008 was a significant moment in what has been an extremely successful career.

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