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A reminder for Tiger Woods of a winning streak that really isn't


MARANA, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods ran into one player and got two reminders.

He was zipping along The Gallery during a practice round Monday, his first look at a new course for the Accenture Match Play Championship where he will try to win his eighth straight PGA Tour event. Some people will argue it's not really a winning streak, for Tiger Woods has failed to win four times overseas.

So it was only fitting that he caught up to Shaun Micheel on the second green.

"Do you think I should wish him luck this week?" said Tony Lingard, the caddie for Micheel.

The streak in its purest form ended Sept. 14 on a gray afternoon in the English countryside when Micheel, the last seed in the 16-man field of the HSBC World Match Play Championship, pulled off a stunner and beat Tiger Woods, 4 and 3.

That never came up during the next 16 holes of a course that stretches some five kilometres out into the desert and eventually winds back through cactus and shrub toward the clubhouse.

They talked about the birth of Micheel's daughter, Marin Belle, born Feb. 9, and Micheel asked him if Tiger Woods knew what gender his child would be when it comes this summer.

"We're not going to find out," Tiger Woods told him. "It's got to be one or the other."

The rest of the round was spent navigating the 7,446-yard course at Dove Mountain just north of Tucson, with two par-five holes over 600 yards and two par-four holes that can be reached off the tee.

It's a new course for all 64 players in the field after the World Golf Championship event left soggy La Costa Resort north of San Diego. Phil Mickelson was due Tuesday, and he joked last week that he couldn't remember the last time he played a regular practice round anywhere except the majors.

It is rare for Tiger Woods to show up Monday, but he knew nothing about the course, and didn't learn much except to notice it was green, brown and white with some marvellous vistas of the valley below.

At stake this week is the streak with the asterisk.

Counting only PGA Tour events, the last time he didn't go home with a trophy was July 9, when he was second at the Western Open. Tiger Woods believes his streak ended when he lost to Micheel, although he also recognizes that his PGA Tour streak is seven and counting, and each week brings him closer to the 11 in a row that Byron Nelson won in 1945.

More than anything, he realizes there are no guarantees at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

Tiger Woods is a two-time champion of this fickle event, but also has lost in every round except the semifinals. A year ago, he was bounced by Chad Campbell in the third round.

And while this WGC event is played over 18 holes until the 36-hole championship match, even the purest form of match play - 36 holes every match - didn't spare Tiger Woods a defeat at Wentworth last September.

"I cherish my win against him," said Micheel, who lost in the championship match that week to Paul Casey. "It's exciting to be playing in the same generation with a guy who arguably is the best ever."

Read more at www.canada.com


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