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Mr. Match Play

Citizen Staff Writer



Geoff Ogilvy went 38 holes this weekend without a bogey before finally proving himself human to an audience tempted to believe the opposite.

In the final 18 of Sunday’s 36-hole title match, he conceded No. 11 to Paul Casey – the only ping in Ogilvy’s machine-like 4 and 3 win at the Accenture Match Play Championship at Marana’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain.

“He didn’t flinch,” said Casey, who is a close friend of Ogilvy.

Golf officials may be able to declare Ogilvy the “Master of Match Play.” The 31-year-old Australian won the 2006 Accenture in San Diego, was second here in 2007 and owns a 17-2 record in this tournament.

His long, flawless swing had not a hitch Sunday against the capable Casey, who brought a 16-3-1 match play record into the final.

Ogilvy closed out the Englishman with a 6-foot birdie on the 15th hole to earn $1.4 million and jump from No. 8 to No. 4 in the world ranking – inching closer to No. 1 Tiger Woods, the defending Match Play champ who went out in the second round.

“The thing I’ll remember is I beat some really good players,” said Ogilvy, who took the lead with a 6-foot birdie on the first hole and had a 3-up lead after the morning round, then shot 31 on the front nine to stretch the lead to five.

“I beat the world because I played really, really well the last three or four days,” said Ogilvy, who did not trail in his final 62 holes, downing Rory McIlroy and Stewart Cink on Saturday.

The only real drama Sunday occurred in the morning’s second nine, after Casey eagled the par-4 10th with a 200-yard, 6-iron shot.

On the par-5 11th, Ogilvy hit his second shot into a cholla – “one of the most gnarly cactuses in Arizona,” the Aussie said. Ogilvy took a penalty drop and still missed the green, but he chipped in from 60 feet for par. Casey missed his putt and could not get momentum on a hole he thought he would win.

Typical, unflappable Ogilvy. He didn’t blink. His even temperament has been a gradual process.

“He walks at the same pace, whether he’s playing well or poorly,” Casey said. “He manages himself very well, and that’s what I felt today.”

Ogilvy said staying on an even keel is vital in match play.

“A lot of it is feeling like you’re beating him,” he said, “and it’s under your control that he doesn’t feel (the same).

“If you behave like he’s getting to you , it’s going to make him play better potentially.”

Before the break, Casey had one last chance to gain momentum, with Ogilvy leading 3 up. Casey drove to the front of the green on the par-4 15th but missed a 6-foot birdie and Ogilvy parred to halve the hole.

Ogilvy birdied the next hole to go back to 4 up, then drained a 12-foot birdie on No. 17 after Casey was in tap-in range.

In the afternoon, Casey birdied three of his next eight holes, but Ogilvy still stretched his lead to 5 up with an 8-foot birdie on No. 7 and hitting his approach to 4 feet on the par-5 No. 8.

Cink edged Ross Fisher 1 up in the consolation match with a birdie on the 18th hole.

Ogilvy and Casey, Scottsdale neighbors, agreed that playing a friend is not an ideal thing.

“In a match-play situation, if you’ve got the opportunity, it’s pretty much like a fight,” Casey said. “If you (get) the opportunity without being bawdy, you’ve got to step on the other guy’s throat.

“When its a friend, you can’t say, ‘I want to step on his throat.’ ”

Ogilvy said he’d rather play a stranger.

“It’s easier to kind of bear down if you don’t know a guy.”


2006: Beats Davis Love III 3 and 2 for title at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif.

2007: Loses crown to Henrik Stenson 2 and 1 at The Gallery in Marana.

2009: Downs Paul Casey 4 and 3 at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain

> Notes, full bracket results, 5C

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