Ogilvy cruises to victory at Mercedes

By Associated PressJanuary 11, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii ' Geoff Ogilvy finished the final round the way he started Sunday, six shots clear of a winners-only field at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
It was the part in the middle he could have done without.
 
Ogilvy was on the verge of an unseemly collapse, his six-shot lead down to one as he stood in the ninth fairway, when he drilled his approach onto the green and holed a 30-foot eagle putt to steady his nerves and send him on his way to victory at Kapalua.
 
Geoff Ogilvy
Geoff Ogilvy is the first player to earn a ticket to the 2010 Mercedes. (Getty Images)
With four straight birdies on the back nine to restore the margin, he sailed home to a 5-under 68 to join Ernie Els and Vijay Singh as the only wire-to-wire winners since the season-opening PGA Tour event moved to Kapalua in 1999.
 
Anthony Kim nearly made double eagle on the last hole for a 67 to tie for second with Davis Love III, who also had a 67.
 
It was the fifth PGA Tour victory for Ogilvy, adding to his U.S. Open title in 2006 and a pair of World Golf Championships. He finished at 24-under 268, earned $1.12 million and moved up to No. 6 in the world.
 
When Geoff plays well, it never looks like hes going to hit a bad shot, Adam Scott said.
 
But there were a few too many on the front nine, which was no walk on the beach.
 
Ogilvy had made only one bogey in the first three rounds, but doubled that count after this first two holes Sunday.
 
With the Plantation course soft from overnight rain that lasted into the morning, Ogilvy missed the fairway to the right on the opening hole and couldnt reach the green, missing an 18-foot par putt. He found a bunker with his tee shot on the second hole, blasted out to about 6 feet and missed that putt.
 
Just like that, his lead was down to three shots over Kim, who birdied two of the opening three holes.
 
And even after Ogilvy appeared to steady himself with an up-and-down birdie on the par-5 fifth, followed by another good pitch to 5 feet for birdie on the sixth, he was grinding.
 
He hit the wrong club on the seventh, came up short and took bogey. Then he missed his target some 20 yards to the right on the par-3 eighth and took another bogey.
 
Ive never had a six-shot lead before. Its a pretty uncomfortable feeling, to be honest with you, Ogilvy said. I got to the green and saw I had a one-shot lead ' I figured it was mostly gone ' and it felt like a normal tournament again. I just told myself, Its a great spot to be after 63 holes, get on with it.
 
And he did.
 
After watching Kim made another birdie to go out in 32, Ogilvy hit 3-iron to the front edge of the green and rolled in the eagle putt. That put his lead back to three, and he didnt come close to dropping another shot the rest of the round.
 
From then on, I was a different person, Ogilvy said. I played almost the best I had all week the next six holes. It was the right time for a great shot, and I happened to make the putt, which was a big bonus.
 
Singh (2007) and Els (2003) were tied for the lead after the first round when they went wire-to-wire. Ogilvy took the outright lead on the 14th hole of the opening round and never trailed over the final 58 holes of the tournament.
 
Love, who only qualified for the Mercedes by winning the last tournament of the season at Disney, got up-and-down from the rough right of the 18th green for birdie to tie for second. His tie for second should move him up to about No. 55 in the world ranking, important as he tries to qualify for the Masters.
 
Justin Leonard went 50 holes without a bogey until dropping a shot on the 13th hole. He shot 70 to finish fifth.
 
All of them were playing for second on the back after Ogilvy rediscovered his swing and his focus with the eagle on the par-5 ninth. The 31-year-old Australian followed that with a 20-foot birdie on the 10th, the took advantage of the easy holes with birdies.
 
Starting on No. 12, where he hit wedge into 5 feet, Ogilvy made four straight birdies inside 8 feet, and played conservatively on the last few holes. It was a scenic and peaceful walk as he walked downhill the last two holes toward victory, the Pacific on the horizon and the sun making Molokai appear closer than the 10 miles across the Pailolo Channel.
 

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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.