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Ogilvy quietly rises to No. 4 in the world

Citizen Staff Writer



A back nine of thoughts after a week at the Accenture Match Play Championship:

1. Geoff Ogilvy is a quiet assassin.

When Ogilvy broke through for his first PGA Tour win in 2005 – right here at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson – he was still being confused with Joe Ogilvie and wasn’t considered a hot, young player like Kevin Na, who was 21 at the time.

Ogilvy defeated Na and veteran Mark Calcavecchia in a playoff, helping launch a career that is still sneaking up on most of us.

By winning the Match Play championship for a second time – to go along with his 2006 U.S. Open title – Ogilvy, a bit sheepish about how he stacks up to the rest of the golf world, has earned the right to do a bit of bragging.

It’s Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington . . . and then Ogilvy. That’s what the official rankings now say, even if many less-than-casual fans would have trouble picking him out of a golfing lineup.

“Geoff is a quiet guy. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves,” said Paul Casey, who lost to Ogilvy 4 and 3 in Sunday’s final.

“What’s tough about playing Geoff is that he doesn’t change. His demeanor doesn’t waver.”

Ogilvy, a 31-year-old Australian, talked Sunday about how there will never be another Greg Norman in his country, if only because of Norman’s excess of charisma.

“You either have it or you don’t,” Ogilvy said.

Ogilvy might not have it, but he’s got plenty of game.

2. Tiger is fine.

He was booted in the second round by otherwise forgettable Tim Clark, but Woods said he was pleased with how he hit the ball in his comeback from knee surgery.

“Just didn’t make enough birdies,” he said.

When Tiger re-emerges again, we’ll find out how his reconstructed left knee reacted to his two rounds here, but there didn’t seem to be any fundamental problem that will prevent Woods from earnestly renewing his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.

3. Rory McIlroy is the real deal.

The 19-year-old sensation is from Northern Ireland, not northern California, which explains why he doesn’t already have his own Nike commercials here in the States.

The baby-faced McIlroy, who is the youngest player to ever be ranked in the world top 20, made his professional U.S. debut at match play, reaching the quarterfinals with a combination of pure swing and cool demeanor.

“Everyone needs to remember his name,” Ogilvy said.

Could McIlroy be The One to some day unseat Tiger as the top-ranked player in the world?

“Tiger is Tiger and even after the operation he is going to come back great,” McIlroy said. “He has been the best in the world for the last 10 years and I see no reason he won’t be for another few years.”

Just another few years?

4. Phil Mickelson has no career in the fashion business.

Mickelson’s outfit on Friday included a 1970s-style white belt with a blue shirt, black pants and black shoes, the contrast only serving to emphasize his – how to be polite? – thick midsection.

His wife lets him out of the mansion like this?

Mickelson has insisted on wearing the white belt this season, prompting fellow pro Scott McCarron to say last month, “I mean, somebody please give him a citation.”

Mickelson needs to leave the white belt to the wiry 20-somethings with the bling-bling belt buckles. They can, mostly, pull it off . . . at least with matching white shoes.

5. Jack Nicklaus knew what he was doing.

The word “undulating” has been getting a workout this week.

Nicklaus, in designing the Ritz-Carlton layout at Dove Mountain, created huge greens with huge slopes. The upshot of it all meant that players had to think, be creative around the greens and execute precise shots . . . or else face the penalty of curling putts with hard-to-calculate speed.

Camilo Villegas was asked early in the week if he has ever seen anything like it. “No,” he said.

Ogilvy grew more comfortable with the course, but when asked Wednesday about his thoughts, he responded, “Do I have to answer that question?”

Said Jim Furyk: “I can’t say that I have ever played a golf course with greens that have this much slope and undulation and movement. . . . I think it’s an interesting golf course to say the least. It definitely lends itself to match play.”

Bingo. The greens are not only a signature but it gives match play the risk-and-reward element that makes the format intriguing.

6. My dream match-play event for Tiger.

If the top 64 golfers in the world had to do it all over again next week, I would like to see Woods navigate this six-round path (never mind that it could never happen because of seeding):

McIlroy, Anthony Kim, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Ogilvy and Mickelson.

“He’s the best match player in the last 15 years,” Ogilvy said of Woods.

“It would be fun.”

7. The Match Play final should be 18 holes, not 36.

Match play finals are traditionally 36 holes — and the length better identifies the superior player – but nothing is added to the drama.

If anything, the sense of urgency is missing with a 36-hole final. And when you get a rout, such as Ogilvy over Casey on Sunday, the match is a downright snoozefest.

If nothing else, the 36-hole final gives paying fans longer time on the course on the weekend. Without Tiger this year, though, Sunday attendance was down from 7,500 to 6,270.

8. It’s time to stay humble, U.S. golf fans.

The 64-player tournament started with 17 Americans. When this event debuted 10 years ago, there were 36 U.S. golfers in the field.

None of the top three teenagers with the most buzz – McIlroy, Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and Danny Lee (the U.S. Amateur champion by way of New Zealand) – are Americans.

McIlroy – like Harrington, the defending British Open and PGA Championship winner – has no plans on making the PGA Tour his main venue.

9. There are going to be major treats.

Just the presence of Woods for all four majors makes things way more interesting. Beyond that:

Harrington will be going for his third consecutive major at The Masters.

The U.S. Open returns to the fabulous Bethpage Black course in New York, where Woods won in 2002.

The British Open will be held at Turnberry, which has featured three memorable Opens – Tom Watson outdueling Nicklaus in 1977, Norman winning in 1986 and Nick Price draining a 50-feet eagle on No. 17 on Sunday en route to the 1994 championship.

The PGA Championship will be at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn., another celebrated venue on which Payne Stewart beat Scott Simpson in a playoff to win the 1991 U.S. Open.

Woods, great courses and a bevy of young lions chasing the world’s No. 1 . . . sounds like fun.

Just don’t count out the quiet man, Ogilvy, from winning one.

Anthony Gimino’s e-mail:



How Geoff Ogilvy of Australia defeated Paul Casey of England for the Accenture Match Play title Sunday at the par-72, 7,849-yard Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain in Marana:


Hole (par) Ogilvy Casey Score

No. 1 (4) 3 4 Ogilvy 1 up

No. 2 (5) 5 5

No. 3 (3) 3 3

No. 4 (4) 4 4

No. 5 (4) 4 4

No. 6 (3) 3 4 Ogilvy 2 up

No. 7 (4) 4 4

No. 8 (5) 4 5 Ogilvy 3 up

No. 9 (4) 3 4 Ogilvy 4 up

No. 10 (4) 3 2 Ogilvy 3 up

No. 11 (5) 5 6 Ogilvy 4 up

No. 12 (3) 3 3

No. 13 (5) 5 4 Ogilvy 3 up

No. 14 (4) 4 4

No. 15 (4) 4 4

No. 16 (3) 2 3 Ogilvy 4 up

No. 17 (4) 3 3

No. 18 (4) 4 3 Ogilvy 3 up


Hole (par) Ogilvy Casey Score

No. 1 (4) 3 4 Ogilvy 4 up

No. 2 (5) 5 4 Ogilvy 3 up

No. 3 (3) 3 3

No. 4 (4) 3 3

No. 5 (4) 4 4

No. 6 (3) 3 3

No. 7 (4) 3 4 Ogilvy 4 up

No. 8 (5) 3 4 Ogilvy 5 up

No. 9 (4) 4 5 Ogilvy 6 up

No. 10 (4) 4 4

No. 11 (5) – C Ogilvy 5 up

No. 12 (3) 3 3

No. 13 (5) 5 4 Ogilvy 4 up

No. 14 (4) 4 4

No. 15 (4) 3 3

Ogilvy wins 4 and 3

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