The Accenture Match Play Championship,which opened with the trumpeting of Tiger Woodss return,will end with Geoff Ogilvy playing for the title. It figures. Ogilvy has a knack for being the last one standing when the stardust clears.
His victories on Saturday over the 19-year-old wunderkind Rory McIlroy in the quarter-finals (2 and 1) and against Stewart Cink in the semi-finals (4 and 2) were the latest in a series of successes in events in which he upstaged the headliner.
At the 2006 United States Open at Winged Foot,Ogilvy prevailed after Phil Mickelson,a crowd favourite,carded a double bogey on the last hole. Last March,at the PGA Tour stop in Miami,Ogilvy led from the start and stopped Woodss winning streak at seven events. And this year,he has injected some life back into this tournament at Dove Mountain,which went limp after Woodss second-round exit.
I enjoy the big situations, Ogilvy said. All the craziness around a tournament I can take or leave,but like the pressure situations toward the end of tournaments and the big situations,I really enjoy those.
Three out of four
Ogilvy,a native of Australia who lives in Scottsdale,Arizona,has advanced to three finals in this tournament in the last four years. His opponent in Sundays 36-hole final will be Englishman Paul Casey,who defeated countryman Ross Fisher,2 and 1,in the other semi-final. In the quarter-finals,Casey won,4 and 3,against Sean OHair,who said he had been up most of the night before with food poisoning.
Ogilvy and Casey,another Scottsdale resident who has not trailed in any of his five matches,belong to Whisper Rock Country Club near their homes. On February 13,they made the 90-minute drive to this Tucson suburb to play the tournament site,the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club course,which opened in January. I saw him at Whisper Rock that week, Ogilvy said,and I said I was going down there and he said: Ill go down there. Lets play. He came down,we had a good game.
Their showdown on Sunday promises to feel like a loop around Whisper Rock,where they often square off in practice matches during weeks when they are taking breaks from the tour.
Ogilvys winning percentage in this event (88.9) is higher than that of Woods (82.1),a three-time champion. Ogilvy said he could not pinpoint the reason for his success. When prodded earlier in the week,he sounded like a yogi talking about his third eye. I just try to win the first hole,and if I dont,I try to win the second hole, he said. I enjoy that kind of every hole is like an end point.
On Saturday,Ogilvy birdied Nos. 15,16 and 17 to hold off McIlroy,the teenager from Northern Ireland whose game has drawn comparisons to Woodss. In the afternoon,Ogilvy played the last four holes in five-under to put away Cink,a finalist last year. He played solidly, Cink said. I would be surprised if he doesnt win tomorrow.