In a 36-hole final that featured five lead changes, Stenson closed out the defending champion with back-to-back birdies for a 2-and-1 victory that moved the 30-year-old Swede among the elite in golf at No. 5 in the world ranking.
It was the 120th hole he played at The Gallery, but it was quite a payoff. Stenson earned $1.35 million for his first World Golf Championship win, and first victory that counts on the PGA TOUR.
It was a grind for both of them, a long day that began with Stenson tugging a knit cap over his ears in the frosty morning, and ended with the Swede in short sleeves posing with the biggest trophy of his career.
Stenson won for the second time this month, both times in the desert -- at the Dubai Desert Classic three weeks ago, and in the high desert north of Tucson where he didn't have his best golf, but it was good enough.
'I was struggling big time,' Stenson said. 'I don't know how I managed to get it all together. I couldn't say I was floating around thinking how great I was playing. I was happy I could hang around all day.'
Stenson had a 2-up lead after the morning round, then found himself 2-down with 10 holes to play. But he won three of the next four holes, twice with help from the U.S. Open champion. With all the momentum on his side, Ogilvy three-putted from 60 feet at No. 9, then flew the 11th green with a wedge for another bogey.
'Things were going my way,' Ogilvy said. 'It was a ridiculous gift to three-putt the ninth. I can't even begin to describe how stupid that was. I didn't do it on purpose.'
Stenson became only the second European to win the Accenture Match Play Championship, joining Darren Clarke, who won in 2000. Ogilvy was trying to join Tiger Woods as a back-to-back winner of golf's most unpredictable tournament, and challenge Woods' 13-match winning streak.
But Ogilvy was never comfortable with his swing, and it caught up with him.
The key for Stenson turned out to be the 334-yard 12th. He bladed a sand wedge to roll in a 25-foot birdie in the morning for a 1-up lead, then blasted out to 6 feet for birdie in the afternoon to take the lead again.
This time, Stenson didn't lose it.
As badly as Ogilvy faded on the closing holes, he showed why has done so well in this format. The 29-year-old Aussie flew the green on the 13th, only to make a 12-foot par putt to halve the hole. Ogilvy short-sided himself in the bunker on the par-3 14th and blasted out 18 feet by the hole, but again made par to save within one.
Stenson gave him a thumbs-up sign walking off the green, then buried him two holes later with the 8-iron that plopped down next to the hole. Even then, Ogilvy didn't go quietly. He followed with an 8-iron to 6 feet, but missed the putt to the left.
In the 18-hole consolation match, Trevor Immelman began the back nine with three straight birdies and won, 4 and 2, over Chad Campbell to claim third place and $575,000. Campbell earned $475,000.
The tournament put a cap on 7,500 tickets for the final round, although only about half that many fans chased after Stenson and Ogilvy in the afternoon sunshine at The Gallery, when neither played led by two the entire match.
The tone of this topsy-turvy match was set in the chilly sunrise hour about Tucson.
Stenson won the first two holes by hitting his 226-yard approach into the par-5 first to 10 feet for eagle, and sticking a wedge to 5 feet on the next hole for a birdie that Ogilvy conceded.
The Aussie fired back by winning the next four holes, no shot more spectacular than his 3-wood from 296 yards with the wind at his back that rolled a yard past the cup. He completed his four-hole streak with a wedge that one-hopped off the flag at No. 6 and rolled back 8 feet away for another birdie.
The first time they halved a hole was with pars on the par-3 eighth.
Stenson regained the lead on the 12th hole in the morning, which proved pivotal. He had a tight angle to the flag over a bunker, and it spun back against the collar. Using the blade of his sand wedge, Stenson rolled in a birdie from 25 feet for a 1-up lead when Ogilvy pulled his 5-footer to halve the hole.
More momentum swings followed in the afternoon, but not from good golf.
Ogilvy won the first two holes and squared the match on Stenson's three-putt. Ogilvy three-putted the next hole, then tied the Swede again when Stenson hit onto a cart path, then over the green and took bogey on the sixth.
Stenson fell two holes behind with a three-putt, only for Ogilvy to return the gift on the ninth.
Just as Ogilvy became better know by winning last year at La Costa, perhaps the same attention awaits Stenson, whose goal at the start of the year was to get into the top 10.
'Everybody out here knows he's a good player,' Ogilvy said. 'People outside the golf world need to see that.'
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