The scenarios for Tiger Woods to emerge out of the group play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play were simple as far as the 14-time major champion was concerned: he needed to win his match, then worry about what was happening in the other match in Group 13.
After trading jabs with Patrick Cantlay on the front nine, Woods turned the tides beginning on the 11th hole at Austin Country Club.
Trailing 1 down, Woods played the next four holes in 5-under par, highlighted by a hole-out eagle on the short par-4 13th hole.
The eagle put Woods 2-up and marked the third consecutive hole won for Woods. He kept the pressure on by making a 20-footer for birdie and another win on the 14th hole. From there, it was a matter of holding off Cantlay as the holes ran out, which they did as Woods would go on to win 4 & 2.
Woods’ win coincided with Aaron Wise taking down Brandt Snedeker, which moved Woods out of the group stage and into a Saturday morning matchup with Rory McIlroy in the round of 16.
“I was fortunate enough to have things kind of go my way today,” Woods said. “I needed to have two things happen, I needed to win my match and I needed to have Aaron beat Sneds. And so I’m very fortunate to move on.
“Rory tomorrow morning. That’s going to be a lot of fun. And I’m sure both of us will be ready for it.”
McIlroy and Woods will face off at 9:30 a.m. EST on Saturday.