Geoff Ogilvy won the Accenture Match Play Championship for the second time in four years with a 4-and-3 victory over Paul Casey of England to stake his claim Sunday as the best in the world at match play.
In a relentless performance at Dove Mountain, the 31-year-old Australian did not trail over the final 63 holes of the tournament and did not have a bogey on his card over the last 57 holes.
He took the lead with a 6-foot birdie on the first hole of a 36-hole title match, and never gave Casey a chance. Ogilvy had a 3-up lead after the morning round, then shot 31 on the front nine to pull away.
A tournament that began with so much buzz over the return of Tiger Woods ended with a newfound appreciation for the match-play prowess of Ogilvy, who ran his career record to 18-3 in this fickle format.
"The best thing I can say is I enjoy the format," Ogilvy said. "Generally, when you enjoy something, you do it well."
Ogilvy won his third World Golf Championship _ he will defend his title in two week at Doral in the CA Championship _ the most of any player besides Woods, who has won 15 of these elite events.
And while Woods is a three-time winner of the Match Play Championship, Ogilvy ran his record in this tournament to 17-2. He lost in the championship match two years ago to Henrik Stenson, and lost in the first round last year to Justin Leonard.
Casey, who brought a 16-3-1 record in match play into the final, faced a 3-up deficit after the morning match and knew he had to play well to get back in the game. He birdied three of his next eight holes, and Ogilvy still stretched his lead to 5 up.
"I have no excuses right now," Casey said.
Ogilvy closed him out with a 6-foot birdie on the 15th hole. He won $1.4 million and moves up to No. 4 in the world ranking. He became the first player this year with multiple victories on the PGA Tour, having opened the year with a wire-to-wire win at Kapalua.
This was like a home game.
Ogilvy now has won three times in the Tucson area over the last five years, starting with a victory in the old Tucson Open in 2005, before the Australian was eligible for the 64-man field at the Match Play Championship.
Since then, Ogilvy has won a U.S. Open, three WGCs and the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Casey came into the final match having led 79 of the 80 holes he had played in his five previous 18-hole matches.
That amazing mark didn't last long.
Ogilvy made birdie from 6 feet on the first hole, and when Casey failed to match him from 5 feet, it was the first time the Englishman had trailed all week. From there, it only got worse.
Ogilvy had a putt to win on the next eight holes, converting three of them for a 4-up lead at the turn.
The final match is more marathon than sprint, although it was a bad omen for Casey. No one had come back from more than a two-hole deficit all week, and this was no exception.
The lone highlight for Casey came at the par-4 10th, when he his 6-iron from 200 yards landed perfectly against the slope and rolled into the cup for an eagle. But on the next hole, Ogilvy regained control with a spectacular shot of his own.
The par-5 11th was the most entertaining hole at Dove Mountain.
Casey drove into a bunker, so close to the face that he could only advance it far enough to leave him 262 yards to the hole. Despite such a predicament, Ogilvy attempted to reach the green with a 3-wood, only to hook it into the desert. The ball landed in a bed of jumping chollas that had fallen to the ground, and Ogilvy didn't bother removing it to keep from getting pricked by the needles.
The advantage shifted to Casey, who promptly pulled his 4-iron into such a bad spot left of the green that he had no angle to the pin and did well to pitch it 18 feet long. Ogilvy took his penalty drop, still didn't reach the green, then chipped in from 60 feet for par. He won the hole when Casey missed his putt.
Casey had one last chance to gain some momentum. Ogilvy's lead was 3 up when Casey drove to the front of the green on the par-4 15th. Ogilvy had to settle for par, and Casey missed a 6-foot birdie.
Ogilvy birdied the next hole to go back to 4 up, poured in a 12-foot birdie on the 17th after Casey was in tap-in range and wound up taking a 3-up lead to the break.
Casey's only hope was to cut into the lead quickly, but he missed too many putts to stay in the match. The rout was on when Ogilvy made an 8-foot birdie on the seventh, then hit his approach to 4 feet on the par-5 eighth.
It was far different from the last time Ogilvy won this event, in 2006 the last year it was held at La Costa. He had to go extra holes in his first four matches, and 10 times watched his opponent stand over a putt to win the match.
His only close call at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club came in the second round. Shingo Katayama has a 12-foot birdie on the 17th hole to win the match. He missed, and Ogilvy stayed alive by making a 10-footer for par, eventually winning in 19 holes.
The rest of the week, the Australian was at his best.
(This version CORRECTS SUBS 2nd graf to correct to 63 holes without trailing. Optional upcoming.)
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