"It was a tough match for both of us, " Woods said of the match with McIlroy.
Woods, the 13th seed, never trailed in the showcase opening match between the two former world number ones, building a three-hole advantage over McIlroy by the 10th hole.
McIlroy, who had dropped only three holes in three matches, was 3-down after 10 against Woods but birdied to win 12 and 13 and looked to win 16 after Woods buried his tee shot under a bunker lip.
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He previously had won the event three times. "Maybe towards the end of the match somewhere I'm going to have to respond to some of the shots he plays or some of the putts he holes".
"I'm thankful for the format because I'd be going home yesterday, " Woods said of the old knockout style. "At the end of the day, I am the one who made the mistake".
"I can play 27 holes per match, that's not really the point", Molinari said after his 6-and-5 victory over Kevin Na.
First, he had to beat Henrik Stenson, and the Dane took care of Scandinavia's best player in 16 holes.
After a frenzied build-up to Saturday at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship that lived up the hype, the Final Four - or "semifinals" as the PGA Tour blandly refers to it - was largely received by the masses with a collective yawn. I said, 'I didn't want that to be how a hole was won or lost'.
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McIlroy finally showed signs of life when he narrowly missed a chipped eagle attempt at 12, with Woods conceding the short putt and missing his own birdie effort to give one back.
Woods seized control of his match with and eagle from 82 yards out on the par-4 13th, a hole where he hit into the water a day earlier.
The world number four then hit his third shot out of bounds to see his challenge fade before his fifth shot from the same spot found the greenside bunker just yards in front of him. He eventually closed it out a 5-and-4 victor.
McIlroy returned to his original lie, only to find a bunker on his next shot before blasting to within two feet and conceding the hole.
High winds and heavy rain then began to play a part, Woods sending a wedge long and failing to recover as suddenly the momentum was with McIlroy, who halved the deficit.
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The prosecutor, First Assistant State's Attorney Joe Magats , said thousands of cases have similar resolutions. Investigators alleged Smollett staged the attack with the hopes of gaining attention and advancing his career.
Woods, who went 2-1 in his group, needed Wise to defeat Snedeker in order to advance; had they tied, Woods would have gone to a sudden-death playoff with Snedeker.