Ogilvy Beats the World at the 2009 World Golf Match Play Championship!

Ogilvy Beats the World in Match Play

Geoff Ogilvy wins his second WGC- Accenture Match Play Championship at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona.

Geoff Ogilvy wins his second WGC- Accenture Match Play Championship (2009 & 2006) at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona. Photo Credit: UK Golf Monthly

It’s March now and Geoff Ogilvy’s march to the top echelons of the world of golf is progressing quite nicely.

On Sunday, the master of match play continued his hot play and quietly disposed of Englishman Paul Casey 4-3 in the 36-hole finale to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. After being tested to 19 holes in his first two matches with Kevin Sutherland and Shingo Katayama, Ogilvy disposed of up-and-coming stars Camillo Villegas and Rory McIlroy before dusting off Casey in the Arizona desert.

There is a case to be made for Geoff to join Tiger, Padraig, and Phil in the top foursome of golf.

Tiger Woods with 65 PGA Tour victories and 14 Major Championships is the undisputed world No. 1. Padraig Harrington winning three of the last six Majors including the last two in a row has a chance to do this year with victories at the Masters and U.S. Open what only Tiger has been able to do—possess all four Major Championship trophies at one time.

Phil Mickelson has 35 PGA Tour victories and three Majors though the last of those came at the 2006 Masters almost three years ago.

It was Phil who allowed Geoff to come out and shine brightly onto the world golf scene at the 2006 U.S. Open. by double-bogeying the last hole at Winged Foot.

Though earlier in that year Ogilvy defeated Davis Love III in 36-hole finale of this WGC match play championship held at La Costa in California.

The 31-year old Aussie validated his place in golf history by winning last year’s WGC- CA Championship a stroke-play event at famed Blue Monster at Doral thereby ending Tiger Woods win streak at five victories in a row. He has won two of the last four WGC Accenture Match Play Championships with a loss in the final match to Henrik Stenson in the 2007 version.

Now with his defense of the WGC-CA Championship only one week away and the Masters only five weeks away Ogilvy’s posed to make even a bigger name for himself during this 2009 golf season.

When first asked in the post-round interview about his ranking Ogilvy was humble.  “That’s not really for me to decide it’s for you guys (golf writers) to decide where I sit in the pecking order.”

Though when asked to “go Poulter” in the interview room as in Ian Poulter’s boast around this time last year “I haven’t played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger,” Ogilvy remained Ogilvy and let his clubs and record do the talking. “Well there’s a few guys in the world who are obviously well in front of me: Tiger, Phil, Sergio, Harrington. So there’s four. So I’m at least fifth. Sergio hasn’t got a Major, but Sergio’s won a lot of big tournaments.”

Segio did win last year’s Players Championship, but has no Major or WGC wins on his resume. Ogilvy is the fourth in the top foursome, no doubt and his humbleness and quiet effectiveness may very well someday take him to the top.

A match play format with the world’s best 64 golfers makes this event a true delight on the PGA Tour. There were many stories this week none less meaningful then the return of Tiger Woods to competitive golf. He came out in style, his style of playing phenomenal golf birding the first hole and eagling the second. Tiger’s back and that is good for the world of golf and entertaining as all heck for the rest of us. What magic will he bring to the Masters this spring? Maybe a fifth green jacket this year along with one more Major? If so he halves the Major deficit of four to Nicklaus’ golden number of 18.

However, Woods was knocked out early in the second round by a red-hot Tim Clark, who then was knocked off by the emerging 19-year old rising star name Rory McIlroy, who himself then ran into eventual champion Ogilvy.

The story this week is easily that of the format- match-play. Playing this format is something these guys do a lot of as amateur college golfers and little of as professional golfers. With its ties to the very inception of the game on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland match play is well suited to be on the schedule of competitive golf.

The essence of match play is well “It’s very fickle and you never know what can happen,” as Rory McIlroy put it. Ross Fisher, Another Englishman who lost in the consolation match to a Stewart Cink holed bunker shot on the last hole put it another way: “Every game’s a tough game. It’s match play and it’s the top 64 players playing, so every game’s going to be difficult. If you turn up and you’re slightly off your game, you’re going to go home. And even you can turn up and be on your game and shoot 5-, 6-under and you can still go home.” Mono-a-Mono competition and all bets are off.

Casey paid Ogilvy a huge compliment when asked about Ogilvy’s competitiveness in match play. “What is tough about playing Geoff is that he doesn’t change. His demeanor doesn’t waiver, which is a huge attribute, especially in match play. He walks the same pace, whether he’s playing well or poorly. He manages himself very, very well, and that’s what I felt today. Even when I felt like I made birdies he just sort of laughs at you and he just carries on with what he’s doing. It’s Geoff being Geoff.”

With an international field assembled there are natural tendencies to join forces with your fellow countrymen and look ahead to the competition at this year’s President’s Cup and even next year’s Ryder Cup.  Ogilvy spoke as to how he chose ASU and settled in Arizona: “You tend to, when you’re foreigners, you tend to go where some of your country people are. Whether you should or not, you do. Everyone does, really.”

There’s family and country first within the international golfing community.  Casey looked at it in another way “I think it was maybe the second round it seemed like that a huge number of the Americans had won their matches, and then all of a sudden the following day we have got five Englishmen, for example, through to the next round, equal number of Americans and it’s like, wow, look the British are coming.”

It’s well known that Davis Love III wants to compete in the President’s Cup in October with his friend Freddie Couples captaining the American team against the Internationals. He wants it as badly as Kenny Perry wanted to play for the Stars and Stripes in his home state of Kentucky at last year’s Ryder Cup at Valhalla. Camillo Villegas wants to play for Captain Greg Norman on the other side “I do love playing match play and I would love to be on Greg’s team and I’ll work hard to be a part of it.”

The recent Ryder Cup experience factored into one match for sure.  Oliver Wilson after defeating Anthony Kim in the second round commented that “obviously the Ryder Cup I think maybe helped me a little bit, knowing that I’ve already beat him before.” Casey was talking about it but not thinking about it:  “Ryder Cup is a long way away. It’s not certainly not in my mind.” If you are talking about something isn’t it in your mind?

Then there is always the story line about the introspection all golfers whether professional or amateur do to themselves—how can I be a better golfer, how can I be a better match play competitor? Oliver Wilson is trying to develop a Tiger demeanor.  “I always seem to get somebody who’s playing great, and I don’t know if that’s because I’m friendly out on the course and make people relaxed. I’ve tried to change a little bit, I haven’t really spoke to anyone yet this week. I’m keeping myself to myself, grinding it out, and it’s working so far.”  Nobody wants to be a patsy.

Ogilvy has proven he is no patsy. He is without a doubt one of the finest golfers in the world at this moment in time. He is the lead Australian to fill the void of departing Greg Norman’s legacy of 20 PGA Tour victories and two British Open victories. He’s surpassed the other 23 Aussies competing on the PGA Tour with five PGA Tour victories of his own including that 2006 U.S. Open and now three World Golf Championships.

Wouldn’t it be something to see Greg and Geoff in the final twosome at Augusta on Sunday afternoon?

(Originally published by Andy Reistetter on the Bleacher Report circa 3-1-09)