Tiger Woods went prime time tonight, winning his showdown against David Duval under floodlights at Sherwood Country Club and the spotlight of a national television audience.
Fittingly, Woods closed out a 2 and 1 victory on the par-3 17th with a two-putt par. He won the first four par 3s to take a commanding lead, and hung on when Duval made one mistake too many.
With the sun tucked behind the foothills, Duval conceded the match as the floodlights cast long shadows across the green. Whether the first golf event televised live in prime time by a network was a success won't be clear until overnight ratings for ABC Sports are released Tuesday.
"I hate to say it, but it's basically up to the ratings," Woods said. "How high the ratings are will determine how successful it was."
Woods won $1.1 million, and Duval had to settle for $400,000. Each will donate $200,000 to charity, including $100,000 each to the PGA Tour-sponsored First Tee program.
"I know I can play better against him than I did," Duval said. "My game did not feel really good today. I don't know why."
Woods, who has won three times and has finished no worse than seventh since his post-Masters break, is No. 1 in the world rankings -- a position Duval previously held by becoming the first player in 25 years to win four times before The Masters.
That wasn't at stake tonight, in what essentially was an exhibition, a chance for the top two players in the world to finally go head-to-head.
"I didn't approach the match that way," Woods said. "I approach the match that David and I are good friends, and we're going to come out here and put on a good show."
It wasn't a masterpiece by any stretch.
Two up after the first two holes, Duval didn't win another one until the 13th. He tried to push Woods down to the wire, but wound up in the rocks. Duval hit his drive into a cluster of stones and shrubs on No. 16, making the match dormie.
He then hit his tee shot on the 17th about 50 feet away, and Woods only had to two-putt for par from about 40 feet to win the match. "As much as anything, it was a lack of execution," Duval said. "I didn't play as well as I would have liked."
Woods said they would try to beat each other's brains out on the course, but it didn't look like anything other than what it was -- an exhibition. Duval took the lead quickly, making an eight-foot birdie putt on the first hole and taking the next one when Woods three-putted from about 20 feet away on the fringe. But Duval went 10 holes before winning another one, and Woods won half of those.
Four of those came on the par 3s.
Duval caught a plugged lie in a bunker on No. 3, blasted out 40 feet long and two-putted for bogey. On the 186-yard sixth, Woods hit it to eight feet and Duval came up short with an 8-iron, landing in the rocks below.
Woods went 2 up when his 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth came to a stop, then dropped in the left side. And he made it 3 up with a five-foot birdie on the par-3 12th.
What they saw was an awesome display of power from two of the biggest hitters in golf -- and consistency from Woods, who missed only three greens over 17 holes.
Duval was wild, but he also showed some mettle. Right when it looked as though Woods might wrap up this match early, Duval found a way to hang around.
He saved par from a bunker after pushing his drive into the water on No. 11, good enough to halve the hole when Woods blasted out short from the same bunker. And Duval finally won a hole again on No. 13 when he saved par and Woods took bogey after a tee shot into the water.
Duval shaved the margin again with a two-putt from 10 feet for birdie on the 14th, but he missed his chance to square the match on the next hole when a 12-foot birdie slid by the hole.