CARLSBAD, Calif. - Ten times during the Match Play Championship, Geoff Ogilvy watched his opponent stand over a putt that would have sent him home. There was no such stress Sunday as he completed his long, improbable journey by making short work of Davis Love III.
Ogilvy pulled away with an eagle-birdie knockout punch and won, 3 and 2, to become the first Australian to capture a World Golf Championship in the final tournament held at La Costa Resort.
He set a record for playing 129 holes, the most by anyone in the eight-year history of this fickle tournament, which included four consecutive overtime matches at the start of the week.
But he was solid when it counted, taking the lead with a 6-foot birdie on the 16th hole in the morning and never trailing the rest of the way. Love's last hope was to make a 25-foot birdie from just off the 16th green in the afternoon, but he ran it 4 feet by and conceded the match.
"Unbelievable," Ogilvy said. "It's such a hard tournament to believe you're going to keep going. I got lucky the first four days, and the last two games I played very well."
Ogilvy rolled through a Grand Slam list of players, from Michael Campbell (U.S. Open) to Mike Weir (Masters) to Tom Lehman (British Open) and finally Love (PGA Championship).
For Love, it was another opportunity he let slip away.
He lost to Tiger Woods two years ago, 3 and 2, and was soundly beaten by Woods in the semifinals in 2000. But even with Woods out in the third round, Love couldn't produce timely shots.
The biggest blow came at the ninth in the afternoon. He had won two holes to cut the lead to 1 up for Ogilvy, and the Aussie was in trouble short of the green. Love's 6-iron sailed into the gallery, and he stomped his foot and clenched his teeth, knowing he might have lost an opening to square the match.
"If I hit a good 6-iron, it could have been a different story," Love said. "But that's match play."
There must be something about the last week in February for Ogilvy. This was the one-year anniversary of his first PGA Tour title last year in Tucson, a time when Ogilvy was ranked outside the top 64 in the world and not eligible for the Accenture Match Play Championship.
The victory was worth $1.3 million, and moves Ogilvy into the top 30 in the world. As he was beating Love, the tour announced this tournament would move next year to Tucson.
"Very cool," Ogilvy said.
He still has to stay in the top 64 in the world by next year, although Ogilvy appears to be on the rise.
"It just shows you how many good players we have out here," Love said.
While their match ended early, it was tediously slow because of the 18-hole consolation match ahead of them. Zach Johnson beat Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, 1 up, to earn $560,000.
But it became a nuisance, and at times affected the match that mattered.
Ogilvy rallied over the final four holes of the morning to take a 1-up lead through 18 holes, had plenty of time for lunch and to keep loose, then he and Love teed off for the afternoon round 10 minutes behind the consolation match. The timing was to allow fans to watch two groups play La Costa.
The consolation match was atrociously slow, however, forcing Love and Ogilvy to wait up to 10 minutes on the tee. Instead of trying to drive the 328-yard sixth hole, Ogilvy hit iron off the tee and made par. Love went for the green, chipped to 6 feet and made birdie to start his rally.
On the eighth, Johnson whiffed trying to hit a backhanded wedge between rocks in a hazard, then debated with rules officials where he was supposed to drop - even though it would have taken a miracle shot to halve the hole. That meant more waiting for two guys who had everything at stake.
"We got to see a lot of their match," Love said. "We suggested we go around them."
Ultimately, this was about squandered chances for Love.
In the morning, he was on the verge of going 2 up on the 14th hole when he lipped out a 3-foot par putt and halved the hole, then pushed his drive on the 15th into the right rough and made double bogey. Ogilvy took his first lead with a 6-foot birdie on the 16th.
"That was a shocker," Love said, conceding that it cost him the hole and momentum.
Love missed three birdie putts inside 12 feet as Ogilvy grabbed a 3-up lead through 22 holes, but momentum swung back to Love when he pitched out of deep rough to save par on the next hole. He birdied the sixth, and Ogilvy missed a 5-foot par putt on the seventh as his lead dwindled to one hole.
Given an opening, Love tripped on his way through the door.
Ogilvy chopped up the ninth, hitting into rough short of the green, flubbing his chip into the bunker and having to scramble for bogey. Love went over the green, chipped to 10 feet and missed his par putt. Love had a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole to square the match, but left it short.
And that was his last chance.
Ogilvy hit a magnificent iron from 227 yards into 6 feet for an eagle he never had to putt when Love went long on the par-5 11th, and the Aussie took a 3-up lead with an 8-foot birdie on the par-3 12th.
The victory moved Ogilvy into the top 30 in the world ranking and into third place on the PGA Tour money list.
Ogilvy was the No. 52 seed, the third-highest to win in the eight-year history of the Accenture Match Play Championship behind Kevin Sutherland (No. 62) and Steve Stricker (No. 55).
But none of the other surprises had a week like this.
He went 19 holes against Campbell, 21 holes against Nick O'Hern, 21 holes against Mike Weir and 19 holes against David Howell, all of them looking like losses until destiny smiled on Ogilvy.
It lasted one more day, his easiest of the week.
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