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Woods Claims Match Play Golf Championship - 2004-03-01

World Number one golfer Tiger Woods has retained his title at the elite World Match Play Championship in Carlsbad, California. Woods defeated fellow American Davis Love, three-and-two (up three holes with two remaining), in the 36-hole final Sunday.

Woods got off to a slow start and was one-down to Love at the halfway point of the match. But it was his putting that put him back in contention. Woods says that was true throughout the tournament.

"Anybody who is in this event can flat out play the game of golf. And you know that going into each match,"Woods said. Y"ou are going to have to play some pretty good golf. And luckily I was able to make putts at the right time or hit a crucial shot at the right time to get momentum on my side. And that is basically how I won some of my matches. And today was a perfect example of that."

Love was not happy with his putting, and he gave up valuable chances to win holes after hitting his long shots well.

"He was missing fairways on the first 18 [holes] and I let him get away from me. And if I could have got two or three up, then maybe I would have putted a little bit better on the second 18," said Love. "But I played pretty good and I just did not have it on the greens today. He started making them [shots] and hitting fairways, and that is a bad combination [to play against]."

The win was the 40th on the PGA Tour for Tiger Woods and is his first title of 2004. His next start will be in Dubai.

In the consolation match, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland defeated Australian Stephen Leaney, two-up, to claim third place. In Saturday's semi-finals, Woods beat Leaney, two-and-one, while Love needed 21 holes to defeat Clarke.

Rain hampered the tournament earlier in the week, forcing the golfers to play extra rounds on days when the weather was good. The finalists were playing 36 holes for the third day in a row.