Ogilvy cruises to second Match Play title

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2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' When Greg Norman concocted the world tour concept in the 1990s ' a notion that was eventually pinched, in form if not function, by the World Golf Championships ' Geoff Ogilvy must have been exactly the type of champion The Shark had in mind.
 
A renaissance man groomed on the classic Australian sand belt layouts who reinvented his game in the American style to facilitate his championship climb. A world player, having played more events outside the continental U.S. than within the American borders the last five months, with a flair for an international stage.
 
Geoff Ogilvy
Geoff Ogilvy raises the Walter Hagen trophy for the second time. (Getty Images)
By the time Ogilvy hoisted his second shot at the par-5 eighth hole into the cloudless desert sky during the p.m. portion of Sundays double-header against Paul Casey, the Aussie had already run an international table straight out of a United Nations directory.
 
In order, Ogilvy dispatched the best America, Japan, Colombia, Northern Ireland and finally England could muster at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the latter a rousing victory that will be celebrated in Melbourne, Australia, with only slightly less vigor than an Australian win in the famed Ashes cricket matches.
 
Ogilvy coolly rolled in his 5-footer for eagle on the Ritz-Carlton Golf Clubs eighth, at the three-quarter pole he was 6 up on Casey and for the second consecutive year the 36-hole scheduled final match never reached the 34th hole.
 
Let the debate begin. If Ogilvy, a two-time Match Play champion, isnt the best match play player of his generation hes certainly the preeminent stand in, although the unassuming Aussie would have no part of such hyperbole as he collected his third WGC chalice March 1.
 
Last year I was the 33rd best match play player in the world, smiled Ogilvy, referring to first-round ouster at the 2008 Match Play.
 
Humility aside, its difficult, if not impossible, to ignore Ogilvys growing resume on the world stage, three WGCs, only Woods has more international crystal, and a U.S. Open trophy qualifies as much more than window dressing.
 
There was a particular synergy to Ogilvys 09 Match Play masterpiece. It was here in the Tucson hills in 2004 where the father of two arrived at the competitive epiphany that would propel him into the world order.
 
It was after the (Tucson Open), said Dale Lynch, who has been Ogilvys swing coach since the duos days at the Victorian Institute of Sport. We talked that he had to suit his wedge game to suit the type of courses they play in the U.S.
 
Always a solid ballstriker, the hole in the portfolio was in his short game, which, according to Lynch, started to occupy about 80 percent of his practice regimen. Twelve months later he collected his first Tour title, the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, and the following June Ogilvy won the U.S. Open with the same type of low spin, no divot chip on the 72nd hole at Winged Foot that hed been perfecting for over a year.
 
It was the same type of shot he used to roll through one of the deepest fields in golf at the Match Play. Among his victims was world No. 10 Camilo Villegas, a third-round 5-and-4 walkover, and up-and-coming European star Rory McIlroy, another 4-and-3 rout in the quarterfinals.
 
Curiously, Ogilvy didnt show up at Dove Mountain riding a wave of optimism, despite a season-opening victory at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
Fresh off a tie for 30th at the Northern Trust Open, Lynch figured his man was a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, but during his Friday match with Villegas something clicked. Ogilvy went straight to the practice range after the match to hone his swing, an oddity for a player who still spends the majority of his practice time chipping and putting.
 
It was the first time in a long time Id done that, especially with the possibility of 36 holes on Saturday, Ogilvy said. But golf is like that, you get a good feel, an inkling that something is there.
 
Ogilvy called his 72 holes on Maui his best ever. His 66-hole weekend at the Match Play cant be far behind. He edged McIlroy and Stewart Cink by 2-and-1 margins to earn his third trip in four starts to the Match Play final.
 
On Sunday, he was nearly flawless.
 
By the turn of the morning frame, Casey was 4 down and if not for a holed approach from 204 yards at the 10th the Englishman may have wanted to concede the afternoon 18.
 
Casey ' a member with Ogilvy at the posh Whisper Rock club in Scottsdale who joined his friend for a scouting trip to the Ritz-Carlton course early last month ' cut the lead at halftime to three holes, but he would never get any closer.
 
By the time Ogilvys approach at the eighth hole in the afternoon trundled to 5 feet, his friend was already an afterthought, and Caseys desperate attempt at a comeback on the final nine was little more than a delaying tactic.
 
He just sort of laughs at you and carries on, Casey said. I did enjoy walking down the fairway having a chat with him, when I wasnt pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to beat him.
 
The finale ended on the 15th hole, Ogilvy a 4-and-3 champion, in front of a few hundred hardy fans who braved the desert. The quiet conclusion was a striking contrast to how the week started, with a pre-dawn buzz that rivaled a Beatles reunion tour and the first glimpse of Tiger Woods swing in eight months.
 
Although it turned out to be a short work week for Woods, he looked steady in his debut after season-ending knee surgery last June. The world No. 1 rolled over Brendan Jones in his tune-up match but ran into his match play nemesis, a hot-putting foreigner with competitive blinders in Round 2. This time around it was Tim Clark filling the role, whom Ogilvy only half-jokingly thanked in his champions press conference.
 
Without Woods the field likely took a collective breath, but considering Ogilvys play it might have been premature. Although he entered the Match Play ranked eighth in the world ' a misplaced assessment considering the quality, not the quantity, of his victories ' Ogilvys status among his contemporaries is much loftier than his ranking suggests.
 
When Geoff plays the golf he played today you have to put him in that (top) category, Casey said. He doesnt change. His demeanor doesnt waver, which is a huge attribute, especially in match play.
 
As Casey headed back to the clubhouse lamenting another near-miss on American soil, a spectator wandered by with a Love Kills Slowly T-shirt, the iconic image from avant-garde artist Ed Hardy. Casey must have been thinking so does Ogilvy.
 

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