Nicklaus and Woods take Battle at Bighorn 3 and 2

Tiger and Bear, Oh my!

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2002

PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Tiger Woods turned in another prime-time performance. Jack Nicklaus produced one last memorable shot.

The best two players of their generations were simply the best Monday night as Woods made nine birdies in 16 holes and carried his 62-year-old idol to a 3 and 2 victory over Sergio Garcia and Lee Trevino in the Battle at Bighorn.

The only disappointment was the way it ended, with Woods making a 3-foot par putt to halve the hole and win the match. It was the only hole won by a par.

This was more like the Battle of Birdies.

''I've never seen anything like it,'' Woods said. ''You had to make birdie to win the hole. That was incredible.''

Nicklaus had his moments, too.

The Golden Bear, in what might have been his last performance before a national television audience of this size, knocked down the flag with a 7-iron on the ninth hole for a tap-in birdie that sent the gallery into a frenzy.

It wasn't the 1972 U.S. Open, where Nicklaus produced the signature shot of his career by hitting the stick on the 17th at Pebble Beach. Still, Trevino has seen enough of Nicklaus to know what was coming.

''Jack loves to knock it stiff when he's got all the people watching,'' Trevino said.

Woods was so dominant that he was 9 under through 16 holes and didn't even get a chance at two birdie putts inside 10 feet.

''I did all right,'' Woods said in mock understatement. ''I broke 80, didn't I?''

That's something he couldn't say in the third round of the British Open, where he posted an 81 in raging wind and rain.

The only element Monday were temperatures that topped out at 107 degrees.

That, and putting up with Trevino. The ''Merry Mex'' contributed three birdies and most of the conversation, jabbering so much that he only stopped long enough to hit the ball.

And the night wasn't a total loss for Garcia, the 22-year-old Spaniard known lately for the countless waggles and regrips. Nicklaus tried to counsel him on the strange habit, telling Garcia that he, too, was guilty of slow play.

''Finally, I had a couple of penalty times and I learned to play faster,'' Nicklaus told him.

Despite making five birdies, Garcia got another lesson that he knows all too well.

''We had our chances, but we missed too many putts on the front nine,'' he said. ''When you're playing against a guy of this caliber, if you don't make the putts, you can't afford it.''

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