Everything was setting up for it to be the perfect weekend. And then it wasn’t.
Tiger Woods, fresh off his victory over Rory McIlroy in the Round of 16, was just three holes away from advancing to Sunday, where only 36 holes would separate Woods from his 19th World Golf Championship.
Woods, playing in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play for the first time since its relocation to Austin, beat the very man who was supposed to replace him. Going into the final day, even Michael Dell could not have asked for something better.
But no one thought to ask Lucas Bjerregaard.
Bjerregaard, playing in his first Dell Match Play event, silently took down the world’s fifth best player in Justin Thomas on the opening day of the tournament. Then, after halving with Keegan Bradley, Bjerregaard punched his ticket into the knockout stage with a one up victory over Matt Wallace on Friday.
With all of Austin and the world’s attention on Woods and McIlroy, Bjerregaard and Henrik Stenson battled under the radar. Birdieing the first hole and taking the lead, Bjerregaard never looked back as he stretched his lead to as large as four up before defeating Stenson 3 & 2.
“It would be fun to say you played against Tiger,” Bjerregaard said after his match against Stenson. “I’d love that.”
Fun? Against the player who just knocked off one of the hottest golfers in the world and has the entire city of Austin rooting for him?
Throughout the entire match, Bjerregaard walked through galleries of fans cheering for Woods and pronouncing his last name “Beer-garden.” But it didn’t faze him, as he jumped out to a one up lead from the start.
But Woods roared back to life, winning holes three through four to take the lead and extend it to two up through six holes. And all of a sudden, from the fans to the media, the idea of Woods advancing to the semi-finals was not so far away.
Bjerregaard would linger. And by the time the pairing reached the 11th tee box, the match was all squared up.
Club in hand, Bjerregaard would line up on the 186-yard par-three and watched as the wind knocked his ball into the water.
It was only a matter of time before the 58th ranked player in the field succumbed to the pressure and intensity of playing with Woods in a knockout stage.
Yet Woods never would close the door, leaving it open for Bjerregaard to come back and on the 16th green, with Bjerregaard’s ball just inside Woods’, the unthinkable happened.
Woods missed his putt and Bjerregaard made his. All tied up through 16.
On 17, both faced short putts for birdies, both trying to seize momentum entering the final hole. Both made their putts.
Asked whether his putt on 16 or 17 was more important, Bjerregaard said, “17 because I knew (Woods) wasn’t going to miss his.”
And as Woods’ left his second shot on 18 short in the bunker, the player who just introduced himself to Woods earlier on the driving range, was six feet away from pulling off the upset.
“I’ve definitely seen myself on the practice putting green when I was 10 years old making a putt to beat (Woods), I won’t lie,” Bjerregaard said. “Obviously didn’t know if it was ever going to come true.”