Geoff Ogilvy wins World Match Play title
Geoff Ogilvy has been better than anyone in match play over the last four years.
One of these days, he might find out if that includes Tiger Woods.
Even without the world’s No. 1 player around, Ogilvy finished off a remarkable weekend at Dove Mountain on Sunday with a 4-and-3 victory over Paul Casey to win the Accenture Match Play Championship for the second time in four years.
He played 66 holes on the weekend in 25-under par. He never trailed the final 63 holes of this event, mowing down teenage sensation Rory McIlroy and Stewart Cink on Saturday and never giving Casey a chance in the title match.
“The thing I’ll remember is I beat some really good players, and I beat them well,” Ogilvy said. “I played better and better during the week. Every round, I played better, which doesn’t often happen in golf.”
He saved his best against Casey, building a 3-up lead after the morning round, then pouring it on.
“This afternoon, three birdies in the first eight holes and I still lost two holes,” Casey said. “Geoff was exceptional.”
Cink defeated Ross Fisher in the consolation match with a birdie on the 18th hole for a 1-up victory.
A tournament that began with so much buzz over Woods’ return from knee surgery ended with a newfound appreciation for the skill and composure of Ogilvy, who ran his career record to 18-3 in match play.
Woods is 40-12-1 in his professional career.
Ogilvy was asked if he was the best in the world at match play.
“This week I probably was. Last year, I was the 33rd best match-play player in the world,” he said, referring to a first-round loss. “But I have played well in this tournament in the last few years. I’m obviously one of the better match-play players.”
He was quick to note, however, that Woods won three straight U.S. Junior Amateur titles and three straight U.S. Amateurs. He also knew at the start of the week that Woods was in his quarter of the bracket.
“I think I would do OK,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do it one day, for sure.”
Ogilvy won his third World Golf Championship—he will defend his title in two weeks at Doral in the CA Championship—the most of any player besides Woods, who has won 15 of these elite events.
Ogilvy closed out the match with a 6-foot birdie on the 15th hole. He won $1.4 million and moved up to No. 4 in the world ranking with this third victory in his last seven starts. He started the year with a wire-to-wire win at Kapalua, and won late last year at the Australian PGA Championship.
Casey came into the final match having led 79 of the 80 holes he had played in his five previous 18-hole matches.
That amazing mark didn’t last long.
Ogilvy made birdie from 6 feet on the first hole, and when Casey failed to match him from 5 feet, it was the first time the Englishman had trailed all week. From there, it only got worse.
Ogilvy had a putt to win on the next eight holes, converting three of them for a 4-up lead at the turn.
The final match is more marathon than sprint, although it was a bad omen for Casey. No one had come back from more than a two-hole deficit all week, and this was no exception.
The lone highlight for Casey came at the par-4 10th, when he his 6-iron from 200 yards landed perfectly against the slope and rolled into the cup for an eagle. But on the next hole, Ogilvy regained control with a spectacular shot of his own.
The par-5 11th was the most entertaining hole Sunday.
Casey drove into a bunker, so close to the face that he could only advance it far enough to leave him 262 yards to the hole. Despite such a predicament, Ogilvy attempted to reach the green with a 3-wood, only to hook it into the desert. The ball landed in a bed of jumping chollas that had fallen to the ground, and Ogilvy didn’t bother removing it to keep from getting pricked by the needles.
The advantage shifted to Casey, who promptly pulled his 4-iron into such a bad spot left of the green that he had no angle to the pin and did well to pitch it 18 feet long. Ogilvy took his penalty drop, still didn’t reach the green, then chipped in from 60 feet for par. He won the hole when Casey missed his putt.
“Almost a comedy of errors, match-play hole that ended my way,” Ogilvy said.
Casey had one last chance to gain some momentum. Ogilvy’s lead was 3 up when Casey drove to the front of the green on the par-4 15th. Ogilvy had to settle for par, and Casey missed a 6-foot birdie.
Ogilvy, 3 up after lunch, shot 31 on the front nine to put the match away.
It was far different from the last time Ogilvy won this event, in 2006 the last year it was held at La Costa. He had to go extra holes in his first four matches, and 10 times watched his opponent stand over a putt to win the match.
His only close call at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club came in the second round. Shingo Katayama has a 12-foot birdie on the 17th hole to win the match. He missed, and Ogilvy stayed alive by making a 10-footer for par, eventually winning in 19 holes.
The rest of the week, the Australian was at his best.
“I probably gained more as golfer in 2006 because that was my first big tournament. I did a lot of stuff where it was, ‘Do it or you go home,’ and I got all that done,” Ogilvy said. “I get a lot out of this week because I played so well.”