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Geoff Ogilvy highlights depth of talent in world golf

Like New Zealander Michael Campbell at last year's U.S. Open, Australia's Geoff Ogilvy struck a timely blow for the journeyman professional with his surprise victory at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

The 28-year-old from Adelaide started the week at La Costa Resort and Spa as the 52nd seed in an elite field of 64.

He ended it feeling on top of the world after beating veteran American Davis Love III 3&2 in Sunday's 36-hole final.

Although Ogilvy produced several Houdini-like escapes over the five days of competition and completed a tournament record 129 holes before clinching the title, his example is certain to spur on several of his peers around the world.

Former major winner Love, who went into Sunday's final as the favourite, acknowledged the ever-growing depth in player strength in the international game.

"Geoff's victory just shows you how many good players are on tour these days," the 1997 U.S. PGA Championship winner told reporters after losing the La Costa final for the second time in three years.

"He's won before and he's a solid player. He's got great hands and putts very well. I don't think he missed a whole lot of putts he really needed to make.

"Geoff is a strong player and hits it a long way," added Love, who was beaten 3&2 by Tiger Woods in the 2004 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final.

"It just shows you how many good players are out here that he doesn't win all the time."

Ogilvy, whose only previous PGA Tour victory came 12 months earlier at the Tucson Classic in Arizona, always believed he had what it took to shine at the highest level.

"I'm not saying I expected to be up there at WGC events every time but I knew I have it in me," he said.

"I had two pretty high finishes in the majors last year and that made me feel better about my game, that I could compete at that level and at least hang around the top area of a major board."

The Australian tied for fifth in last year's British Open at St Andrews and shared sixth place in the final major of the season, the U.S. PGA Championship at Baltusrol.

"I've been a slow learner in a lot of aspects but I feel like I've been a better player every year that I've been out here," added Ogilvy, who climbed to a career-high 26th in the world rankings on Monday. "That's all I can really ask.

"I've always hoped to contend in major championships and win major championships, and that hasn't really changed.

"Anyone who plays at our level, that's their goal. Maybe winning here makes me feel better about my chances to do it."

Ogilvy's confidence is certain to be mirrored by many other twenty-somethings across the globe. Although the Australian is unquestionably talented and has a burning desire to succeed, he is by no means unique.

Leading players such as Spaniard Sergio Garcia, American Charles Howell III, Australia's Adam Scott, Britain's Luke Donald and South African Rory Sabbatini will feel they are, at the very least, just as likely to win one of the game's biggest titles.

The major breakthrough by Campbell in last year's U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where he held off a charging Woods by two shots, sent out similar signals to the game's rank-and-file.

Campbell, a journeyman professional from Hawera in New Zealand who had considered quitting the game just seven years earlier, claimed his first major title at the age of 36.

"Michael's victory was an example to every player on the tour," European Tour executive director George O'Grady told Reuters at the end of last year.

"Michael is a great European Tour supporter, lost his game, came back through the Challenge Tour, conquered the world and is now back up there and has really made it."

Campbell, a truly global player who has competed on the PGA, European, Asian and Australasian tours, inspired many of his peers with his moment of glory at Pinehurst.

So, too, will Ogilvy, after his memorable week at La Costa.

 

 




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