AUSTIN, Texas – Lucas Bjerregaard kept making big putts and is staying in the Lone Star State.
Tiger Woods missed the last one he took and is going home.
Bjerregaard, who hails from Denmark and is ranked No. 52 in the world, upset his boyhood hero, Woods, in the quarterfinals Saturday in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club. Woods made bogey on the 18th hole – he missed a par putt from just inside 5 feet – to lose the match, 1 down.
“I wanted to play tomorrow,” said Woods, who made seven birdies against Bjerregaard and missed three putts inside 5 feet. “This is going to sting for a few days and I’ll get back after it after that.”
Woods, who moved into the quarterfinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Rory McIlroy in the morning, birdied three consecutive holes on the front nine to get 2 up and kept playing well.
Trouble for him, though, is that Bjerregaard started making putts. A 15-footer for birdie on the 12th to tie the hole; a 6-footer for birdie on the 13th to tie the hole; a 29-footer for eagle on the 16th to win the hole and tie the match; a 13-footer for birdie on the 17th to tie the hole. And then he two-putted from 17 feet on the final hole to close out the match.
“He played well in tough conditions. It was not easy out there,” Woods said of the high winds and cooler temps that swept the course. “We both hung around, kind of grinded our way around the golf course. He played the last three holes pretty solidly. He hit it well. He hit a lot of good shots today. He was flighting it well. His natural ball flight is pretty flat. It’s advantageous in these conditions.”
Woods, ranked No. 13 in the world, said he read the final putt as an inside-left putt, and the ball went too far left. He said the hole was in a weird spot.
“Had a lot of difficult pins out there,” said Woods, who will head to Augusta National for one day next week, fly back home and then return a few days later for the Masters in two weeks. “It is match play and they’re going to put the pins on the difficult side, and they did. And we just have to hit good shots.”
Bjerregaard, who defeated Henrik Stenson in the Sweet 16 in the morning, meets Matt Kuchar in the semifinals. Kuchar defeated Sergio Garcia, 2 up.
Reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari faces Kevin Kisner in the other semifinal. Molinari, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this month, continued his massive roll with a 6-and-5 victory over Kevin Na in the quarterfinals.
Earlier in the day, Molinari, No. 7 in the world, sent Paul Casey home with a 5-and-4 victory. In pool play, Molinari won his matches 5 and 4, 4 and 3, and 2 and 1.
“It’s not always easy, but I kept pushing and kept making putts, and I think that’s the way you need to do at this level because matches can turn very easily on you,” Molinari said.
Kisner dispatched Louis Oosthuizen, 2 and 1, in the quarterfinals, and Hao Tong Li, 6 and 5, in the morning match. Kisner lost to Bubba Watson in the finals last year.
Kisner said, “I know I’m going to have to bring my ‘A’ game to compete with him.”
Bjerregaard, 27, met Woods for the first time on the driving range before their match. He said he dreamt as a kid about playing Woods, making a big putt as a 10-year-old to beat Woods in a major championship.
Now, the reality is he is in position to add the biggest win of his career to his two victories on the European Tour – the 2017 Portugal Masters and the 2018 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He beat Henrik Stenson, 4 and 2, in the Sweet 16 and advanced out of pool play with wins against Justin Thomas and Matt Wallace and a tie with Keegan Bradley.
“It’s been a pretty incredible day. It’s been emotional, that’s for sure,” Bjerregaard said. “It was an incredible experience for me to play with him and see what he plays in front of every day.
“I putted really well against Henrik this morning. And couldn’t really get it going on the front nine against Tiger, didn’t really putt well, the speed was a little bit off, missed a couple of short ones. And then, yeah, on the back nine I got into the rhythm of things a bit more and hit some really nice putts.
“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. But obviously I’m happy to be standing on the winning side.”