Juli Ogilvy'scellphone was bombarded with congratulatory calls and text messages minutesafter her husband, Geoff, had dusted Davis Love III 3 and 2 in the final of theAccenture Match Play Championship. One call was special-it was from JudyOgilvy, Geoff's mother, back home in Melbourne, Australia. "She couldhardly speak, she was crying so much," Juli said. ¬∂ Funny, that's howtournament officials and ABC executives sounded after Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh,Phil Mickelson and defending champion David Toms were all bounced in the thirdround, leaving the event with the glamour of a zoning commission meeting. Yetthe Freaky Friday upsets are part of what makes the Match Play so watchable forgolf fans. ¬∂ This year's tournament was no different from the seven previouseditions. As usual the Match Play was emotional. (See normally stoic TomLehman, your Ryder Cup captain, pound the crud out of his bag on nationaltelevision upon finding his ball in a bad lie during Sunday's consolationmatch, won 1 up by Zach Johnson.) The Match Play was dramatic. (See Ogilvy,ranked 53rd in the world going in, win his first four matches in extra holes,birdieing 18 in all of them to force overtime.) The Match Play was heroic. (SeeLove eliminate pesky Padraig Harrington in the quarterfinals by holing a111-yard wedge shot on the final hole, or Ben Crane ace the 16th in the secondround to give Retief Goosen a scare before falling 2 and 1.) Most of all, theMatch Play was instructive. So let's review what we learned last week at LaCosta Spa and Resort during a matchless Match Play. ¬∂ •The definition of luckyis living in Lincoln, Neb., and kicking in a few bucks with your buds for thewinning Powerball ticket. The definition of unlucky is getting into the MatchPlay field at the last minute as the 64th seed, as Stephen Ames did when ThomasBjorn withdrew. Ames's opening-round opponent was No. 1 Tiger Woods, whobirdied the first six holes and seven of the first nine. Not surprisingly, Ameswas nine down at the turn. The two holes Tiger parred? Ames bogeyed 'em, andWoods won by a tournament-record score of 9 and 8. "Call it 56-0 infootball or 98-32 in basketball-something so absurdly lopsided that you can'teven begin to count it," said Lehman.
•Do not rile Woods(see above). Before their match Ames predicted that "anything canhappen," a suitable cliché. However, Ames finished the sentence by adding"especially the way he's been driving it." Woods confirmed that he hadheard the comments. After the match Woods was asked for a response. "Nineand eight," was all he'd say.
•Woods is mortal.(No, we don't have absolute proof, but many experts are pretty confident aboutthis one.) Two days after demolishing Ames, Woods fell to unassuming Bob HopeClassic champion Chad Campbell, 1 down. Score bonus points if you can name theother players who have taken out Tiger, who is 23-5 at the Match Play, which hehas won twice. (Jeff Maggert, 1999; Darren Clarke, 2000; Peter O'Malley, 2002;and Nick O'Hern, 2005.) Campbell had a terrific ball striking round, as usual,and shook in five birdie putts. His other secret tactic? He and wife Amywatched Cinderella Man in their hotel room the night before the match."Chad fell asleep toward the end, though," Amy said. "I gave himthe gist of it in the morning during my little pep talk. The movie had such ahuge message-a lot of success is talent, but the rest comes from the heart, andthat's what Chad [showed] out there." It also helped that Woods made onlyone birdie and an eagle.
•Singh will notmiss La Costa when the Match Play moves to Tucson next year. The No. 2-rankedplayer in the world had been 0-5 in second-round matches at La Costa. This yearhe made it all the way to the third round, where he lost to Harrington in 19holes.
March 6, 2006
•Love is reallygood at coming close. He now has 29 runner-up finishes on Tour to go with his18 victories, the most seconds of any active player. (For the record, Sam Sneadleads the league in the category with 60.) Little things cost Love againstOgilvy. He lipped out a four-footer for par that would've put him 2 up at the14th hole. That became a pivotal mistake when he double-bogeyed the 15th andOgilvy birdied the par-3 16th to move to 1 up. Ogilvy went 3 up with a pair ofearly birdies in the afternoon 18, and although Love clawed back to 1 down witheight holes to play, he could get no closer. Ogilvy hit his best shot of thetournament on the 29th hole (the par-5 11th), a 227-yard four-iron to withinsix feet (Big Play, G28). The eagle putt was conceded after Love made a mess ofthings around the green. Ogilvy quickly put Love on the ropes by birdieing thenext hole to regain his 3-up lead with only six holes to play.
•Ogilvy, Ogilvie... it's getting (somewhat) easier to tell them apart. Joe Ogilvie, 31, is aDuke alum from Austin, who sits on the Tour's policy board and loves dabblingin the stock market. In seven years on Tour, he has yet to win. Geoff Ogilvy,who grew up in Adelaide before moving to Melbourne, is 28 and lives inScottsdale, Ariz., with Juli. Ogilvy won for the first time a year ago inTucson, but he is routinely mistaken for the guy with the soundalike name. Justlast week The San Diego Union-Tribune ran a story about Ogilvy's march throughhis bracket, with a mug shot of Ogilvie. Last year, when Ogilvie made his firstappearance in the Masters, Ogilvy's picture appeared in the official players'guide above Ogilvie's bio. This year it will be Ogilvy making his first startat Augusta. "It would be justice if I got Joe's photo this year,"Ogilvy says. "Nothing surprises either of us anymore."
There's no mistakeabout Ogilvy's being a star in the making. Some insiders think that althoughhe's a late bloomer, he has more talent than countryman Adam Scott (Pit Stop,G12). "Geoff drives it a mile, he has great hands, and he's a goodputter," says Love. "I can't figure out why he hasn't won more. He'sprobably saying the same thing about me."
Ogilvy's shortgame was superb all week, particularly when it came to that Aussietrademark-superior bunker play. He got up and down out of the sand 12 times in16 tries. "Growing up in Melbourne, you don't survive if you're not a goodbunker player," Ogilvy says.
Gary Player, thecaptain of last year's International team at the Presidents Cup, passed overOgilvy when the time came to make his wild-card picks. Says Ogilvy, "Heleft a message on my phone the Monday after the PGA, saying, 'Geoff, I haven'tpicked you,'" Ogilvy said. "It was nice of him to call." Despiteties for fifth at the British Open and sixth at the PGA, Ogilvy didn't thinkhe'd even be considered.
Here's anotherthing we learned at the Match Play: Ogilvy will be on the 2007 team.
Behind the Scenes at Big Break V page G16
Adam Scott Is Geared Up for 2006 page G12
Playing with, Not Like, a Pro page G32
Campbell and wife Amy watched Cinderella Man the nightbefore the Woods match. ¬†"Chad fell asleep toward the end," Amysaid. ¬†"I gave him the gist of it in the morning."
"Geoff drives it a mile, has great hands and is a good putter," Lovesaid of Ogilvy. "I can't figure out why he hasn't won more. HE'S PROBABLYSAYING THE SAME THING ABOUT ME."
Ogilvy slogged through 129 holes, the most ever in the MatchPlay.
A 3-and-2 loser in the final, Love has been runner-up more often (29 times)than any active player.
Ogilvy (left) held off Love with a run of strong play on the final nineholes.
Woods, who was otherworldly against Ames, couldn't get a thing to drop onFriday while losing 1 down to Campbell.
With the Match Play moving to Tucson, Ogilvy's win brought an end to theevent's eight-year run at La Costa.