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Day 3 of the WGC-Accenture: Wilson over Johnson, Bae survives Senden, Kuchar knocks out Kaymer

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By Seth Kerr

GolfWRX Staff Writer

Round 3 of the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship was all about finding a way to move on to the quarterfinals. Most of today’s winners won with relative ease, with only Sang-Moon Bae needing to halve the final hole for victory over John Senden 1-up.

The rest of the matches were decided much earlier with the most lopsided being Peter Hanson’s 5-and-3 win over Brandt Snedeker and Mark Wilson’s 5-and-3 victory over Dustin Johnson.

In a striking contrast, Wilson gets the most out of his body and his game, while Johnson continues to leave fans and golf experts wondering when he will turn the corner. You don’t have to be much of a golf fan to realize Dustin Johnson has all the physical attributes in the world, while Wilson looks like the average guy.

Most of us watch Johnson and wish we could hit it like him while we should be learning from Wilson, whose average-to-below-average length puts him at a disadvantage on Tour.

“I know people keep talking about how I hit it so short that I can’t compete,” said Wilson. “First of all, I don’t hit it very short and secondly, it all comes down to putting. It really does. So I just don’t know how many times I have to explain it.”

With all respect to Wilson, he is 159th in driving distance (tied with Steve Stricker), averaging just 280-yards off the tee compared to Johnson’s 306-yards. Where Johnson hits a pitching wedge, Wilson is hitting eight or even seven iron. If this were any other sport, Wilson wouldn’t have a shot, but this is golf.

Against Johnson, Wilson showed most of what matters in golf is what happens on the greens and a steady putter will trump 300-yard drives. In losing to Wilson for the second year in a row, Johnson hit just three of 12 fairways and missed more than half of the greens in regulation.

Matt Kuchar played a bogey-free front nine to take a two hole lead to the back against last year’s finalist, Martin Kaymer. Kuchar then birdied Nos. 10 and 11 to take a 4-up lead and put the match to bed.

Hunter Mahan birdied four straight holes on the back nine to thrash Steve Stricker 4 and 3. Mahan had an incredible nine birdies in the shortened round and never allowed Stricker to get anything going. Mahan jarred a putt from more than 55 feet for a birdie on No. 12, causing Stricker to pick up the ball from the hole and, in jest, throw it in the stands for a souvenir.

Lee Westwood took some revenge over Nick Watney, who had knocked out Westwood the previous two years. Westwood made seven birdies to win 3 and 2 and never trailed in the matching, pushing his streak to 49 straight holes without being behind.

In the understated manner the English are known for Westwood said, “I made a lot of birdies today and didn’t let Nick get into the match.”

Westwood will face long hitter, Martin Laird who finished off Scottish countryman Paul Lawrie, 3 and 1.

While the prognosticators are looking forward to a semifinal match up between Westwood and McIlroy in battle for No. 1, McIlroy better not look past Sung-Moon Bae. Bae, a rookie on tour this year, is no stranger to facing down McIlroy and winning after coming from behind in the 2009 Korea Open to beat McIlroy. Bae has played solid golf in all three matches and already beat one of Europe’s top match play players, Ian Poulter.

The Golf Channel will have coverage of Saturday’s matches from 12-2 p.m. EST. Coverage then shifts to NBC from 2-6 p.m. EST.

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Seth is an avid golfer playing year round in Florida.

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Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut

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Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB

Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.

(c/o PGATour.com)

We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open

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After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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Custom Camerons, wedge stampings, a 6-hybrid, and Tiger wearing Tennis shoes?

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Yesterday, we brought you shots of Thomas Pieters’ iron stamping, Adam Scott’s new (shorter) wand, and more.

Today, we’ve got some more choice shots from the range at Riviera from Tuesday’s practice. Strap in for a sampling from a cornucopia of WITB shots and a helping of Tiger Woods (who we feature in two galleries). We also discussed his new driver shaft yesterday, so if you missed that piece, check it out.

On to the pictures.

First up, Wesley Bryan looks to be gaming an some Anthony Taranto artistry with his 54-degree Mack Daddy 4 wedge. Do work, indeed!

Ted Potter, Jr. won more than a million dollars at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. But as the check hasn’t come yet, he hasn’t been able to buy Goo Gone to take the tape residue off the bottom of his putter.

A custom Cam for Rafa Cabrera Bello.

…and William McGirt.

#GrindGoals (Luke Donald’s 60-degree Mizuno T7)

Vijay Singh looks to have gotten his foot stuck in a bear trap, and yet he’s still practicing!

The most famous putter in golf, and Nike Vapor Advantage tennis shoes for Tiger?

Apparently, all the weight modification available on PXG 0311 irons was insufficient for Charl Schwartzel.

When your name scripting matches your sponsor’s script…

This is not the WITB of a 20-handicapper, rather Camilo Villegas may be the only Tour pro gaming a 6-hybrid.

So much is going on with Camilo Villegas’ irons…

You’ve seen custom stampings, but how about Bubba Watson’s custom shaft and custom shaft graphic?

When you’re the only PGA Tour professional to own a candy store, your wedge imagery reflects that fact.

The Big Cat browsing GolfWRX on mobile, no doubt…

If you’d like to dig deeper, we have two galleries of range photos from the Riv, plus 13 (!) WITB threads. Dig in!

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