Tiger out of Match Play after missing 4-foot putt

AUSTIN, Texas -- A wild day that included scintillating and shabby golf, an early wake-up call and a late slap back to reality ended with Tiger Woods tersely answering questions in the Austin Country Club parking lot, a courtesy car waiting and a trip home to Florida on his suddenly changed itinerary.

Woods was understandably fuming after missing a 4-foot par putt on the 18th green that would have extended his match with Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard to extra holes, with a spot in Sunday's semifinals of the Dell Technologies Match Play at stake.

"No, I'm not,'' Woods said when asked if this is where he wants to be with the Masters looming. "I wanted to play tomorrow. This is going to sting for a few days, and I'll get back to it after that.''

While playing in windy, cold conditions on Sunday might not have been the best idea for a 43-year-old golfer with a bad back, Woods seemed poised to at least put himself in position for an 81st PGA Tour title. He will be credited with a tie for fifth, his best finish in five starts this year.

Woods, the three-time winner of the event who had not made it to the quarterfinals -- not to mention the group of 16 -- since 2008, dispatched Rory McIlroy earlier in the day 2 and 1, and then built a 2-up lead early in the round with two-time European Tour winner Bjerregaard.

But Woods missed a golden opportunity to go 3 up on the sixth hole when he missed a 6-foot birdie putt, two other putts inside 5 feet and let Bjerregaard -- whose biggest victory was last year's Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland -- hang around. The Dane made birdies at the 12th and 13th holes to stay 1 down, then eagled the 16th to draw even and made a birdie putt on top of Woods at the 17th to take the match to the 18th.

Both players drove it long and into the rough, but Woods blinked, leaving a 45-yard shot short and in a bunker. He blasted to 4 feet, and when Bjerregaard missed his birdie putt, Woods had a chance to tie.

"I wasn't expecting that, that's for sure,'' said Bjerregaard, who met Woods for the first time before teeing off. "It's a shame it had to end that way, because it was a really good match. Conditions were tough today, and we both threw in a bunch of birdies at it. So it's a shame it had to finish with a bogey.

"It was an incredible experience for me to play with him and what he plays in front of every day.''

Bjerregaard, who is ranked 52nd in the world and had already qualified for his first Masters, will take on Matt Kuchar in one semifinal Sunday morning. Kuchar defeated Sergio Garcia 2-up after beating Tyrrell Hatton in the morning 4 and 3.

In the other semifinal, Francesco Molinari takes on Kevin Kisner. Molinari was a 6-and-5 winner over Kevin Na after defeating Paul Casey 5 and 4 in the morning. Kisner beat Louis Oosthuizen 2 and 1 after a 2-and-1 win over Marc Leishman in the morning.

Woods will lament a couple of missed opportunities but still had seven birdies in the afternoon round and would have shot a 4-under-par 67. Bjerregaard had an eagle and five birdies but just a single double-bogey.

"He played well in tough conditions,'' Woods said. "It was not easy out there, and we both hung around, we both kind of grinded away around the golf course. And he played the last three holes pretty solidly.''

Woods was hardly in a mood to reflect on his game or where it's at. It had been a long day, and the week culminated with five rounds in four days that comprised 84 holes. He is expected to go to Augusta National in the coming week to practice at the home of the Masters.

The result was far better for him in the morning, when he knocked off McIlroy in a match that was equal parts glory and gory -- stupendously long drives mixed with zaniness -- the end coming on the 17th green, where Woods narrowly cleared a hazard and then holed the winning par putt.

McIlroy was left to scurry to his car in defeat, a rare low moment for him this year after a strong run of success that included a victory two weeks ago at the Players Championship.

"It was a tough match for both of us,'' Woods said. "I knew it was going to be a ball-striking match. We were both playing well coming into this match, and the year that Rory has had, he doesn't do anything poorly."

Woods had no trouble keeping up with McIlroy off the tee in the early going. He built a 2-up lead with birdies at the fifth and sixth holes, then was gifted the 10th-hole when McIlroy missed a 3-footer.

But McIlroy turned things around with his own birdies at the 12th and 13th holes, then appeared in prime position to tie the match at the par-5 16th.

With Woods having to play out sideways from a fairway bunker, and then hitting his third on the green to 25 feet, McIlroy was in the fairway after bombing tee shot of 395 yards.

He had just 173 yards left, perhaps as little as a 9-iron, but flared it to the right and found himself with an awkward stance, the ball just outside a bunker, his feet in it.

He was about only 100 feet from the hole, but McIlroy pitched long, over the green, and with spectators scurrying out of the way, the ball came to rest against a wooden bulkhead. After considering a drop, McIlroy took an unplayable lie, had to return to the original spot, found the front bunker and then blasted out before conceding. Woods never even hit a putt.

"Well, 16 was tough,'' Woods said. "The wind is blowing as hard as it is, his ball got knocked down. And my ball on 17 was supposed to be downwind, came back into my face. That's just the way it is with these hills, the way the fronts came through. It was a difficult day for both of us.''

Woods ended the match after McIlroy nearly holed a long birdie putt at the 17th.

McIlroy had lost just three holes in going 3-0 coming into the match. Woods, who went 2-1 in pool play, needed to beat Patrick Cantlay on Friday and have Aaron Wise defeat Brandt Snedeker to advance. Woods had not made it this far in the tournament since 2008, the last of his three victories.

McIlroy, who had finished in the top six in each of his six events this year, including his win at the Players, will be credited with a tie for ninth in his final start prior to the Masters. He declined to comment afterward but later posted to his Instagram account.